The Next Frontier: Mobile Eyecare Clinics
You know the statistics. Nearly 40% of Americans don’t go to the eye doctor because they feel like their eyes are “fine,” and despite efforts by the AOA and outreach campaigns, the average American is also getting bombarded by telemedicine ads painting eyecare as “inconvenient” and “expensive.” Many doctors are looking outside of traditional brick and motor locations at the options of mobile clinics – taking their care directly to the patients at businesses, healthcare facilities, correctional institutions, and even in to the patient’s own home. We sat down with mobile eyecare technician Greg Balla to discuss his experiences as part of a traveling eyecare team, from giving exams in the parking lot of large companies, to concierge car in a patient’s home and even a bar!
What You Need to Get Started
1. A Contract In order to show up at a business or facility to offer eyecare, you’ll need to create or even bid for a provider contract with the specific organization. If you are trying to set up a contract with a local business, contacting the HR team is the first place to start.
2. Portable Equipment Depending on the care you plan to give, you’ll need a range of portable eyecare equipment. Your basics will likely include:
- Portable autorefractor 1,2,3
- Portable lensometer 1,2
- Handheld phoropter or trial frame kit 1,2
- Portable slit lamp 1,2,3
- Panoptic ophthalmoscope and/or portable retinal camera 1
- Handheld tonometer (Tonopen or iCare)
- Glasses repair kit
- Portable lightbox acuity chart 1
3. Help! Greg’s team usually consists of a doctor, himself (the tech), a check-in staff person who also helps with optical frame selection, and an optician. They schedule patients as often as every 15 minutes for corporate businesses, and typically see around 30 patients a day. Typically they bring a selection of 200-300 frames targeted for the patient demographic and needs of the business or facility they are traveling to that day.
4. Logistics Are you accepting insurance? Is the business paying you or the patients? These details all need to be worked out ahead of time. Some insurances do partner with doctors to offer mobile clinic care. Check out VSP Mobile Eyes for an example. At the same time, concierge care models that bring eyecare directly to the individual are typically self-pay services, allowing the doctor to spend ample time with this patient base without the constricts of limited insurance reimbursement.