For over two decades, I’ve predicted that one day, an eye exam would be dispensed like so much gum…from a vending machine. Technology is sometimes cruel and forces are at work to bring such a possibility to reality.
a) Auto-Refracting Technology is pretty darn accurate.
b) The regulatory line has been crossed. Since 2010, in British Columbia, a consumer no longer needs a doctor’s Rx to obtain eyewear or contacts.
c) In that same province, last year, optometrists were prevented from charging for a PD measurement. It’s part of the eye exam.
d) It’s no secret that now, some 3% of eyewear is delivered through internet channels. People are getting used to self-serve technology.
e) apps exist to do exams and measure for lenses.
f) SoloHealth, a firm that has developed and is installing screening kiosks in store, now has locations in over 1,200 retail locations around the U.S., including Sam’s Club and Walmart stores. The company plans to expand to more than 2,500 store locations by mid-2013 and 4,000 by 2014. An advertising partner is J&J. An investor is WellPoint. WellPoint controls over 35 million lives. They acquired 1-800 Contacts last year. Their published objective is “To Create the Best Health Care Value in Our Industry.” Get the connection? Coincidence?
So, it comes as no surprise to read this letter: Defense (1)
My advice to optometry…wake up and smell the coffee. Get out of vision plans to reduce your risk of concentration (too many customers from one source). Who do you think will be the first folks to send their patients to a kiosk for an exam? Who do you think wants to sell contacts without an Rx? Those with the most to gain…vision plans.
And you’d better be supporting your associations and PACs. They’re the only ones that can fight this fight on your behalf.