Optometry Australia (OA) members will have access to Oculo’s telehealth platform, including its real-time videoconference feature, as part of a new partnership to ensure patients continue to receive optometric care during COVID-19.
Oculo and OA announced the new partnership on Tuesday 7 April which provides members’ access to Oculo for an initial six months to support optometrists’ telehealth capabilities.
Optometrists from Specsavers, Luxottica Australia, and Bupa Optical also use Oculo. Currently, OA, Specsavers and Luxottica are part of a group lobbying the government to allow eyecare professionals to deliver telehealth consultations under Medicare during COVID-19.
Oculo CEO and co-founder Dr Kate Taylor said the company was “delighted” to work with OA to ensure that Oculo’s platform for telehealth “supports as many eye health professionals and patients as possible at this difficult time”.
She added: “The Oculo platform enables optometrists to provide telehealth consultations minimising the need for in-person consultations which protects optometrists, staff and patients from infection with COVID-19 and for patients, assists in reducing the risk of preventable vision loss.”
OA CEO Ms Lyn Brodie said the organisation recognises the huge impact COVID-19 is having on its members.
“We want to do everything we can to protect the health of our members, their staff and their patients,” she said.
“During this pandemic, telehealth provides a great opportunity to ensure patients with eyecare needs that cannot be postponed, can access the optometric care they need.
“This is why we are supporting our members to access Oculo’s platform as it is a way of ensuring they have the systems they need to provide ongoing care to their patients.”
OA members are advised to update their member profile by midday AEST Thursday 9 April and flag if they or their practice are, or will, offer telehealth services, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oculo’s new videoconference feature went live last week for optometrists and ophthalmologists to continue delivering care to patients requiring ongoing support for chronic conditions.
Taylor told Insight that the company’s 11-strong development team had been working around the clock to implement the new feature for several weeks.
“The implication of cancelling significant amounts of routine outpatient activity are going to be felt long after the crisis phase of COVID-19 has passed,” Taylor said.
During the past fortnight, key industry stakeholders have lodged submissions with the Department of Health to modify optometry Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers 10916 (brief initial consultation) and 10918 (subsequent consultation) for telehealth purposes.