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VisionWatch Ocular Telemedicine Report

In December of 2018, The Vision Council fielded a questionnaire exploring consumer perception and usage of ocular telemedicine services. These questions were appended to the VisionWatch survey platform, and 10,366 respondents were surveyed. For the purposes of this study, TVC defined Ocular Telemedicine as follows:

Ocular telemedicine services refer to smartphone apps, websites, online or remote platforms that provide vision / eyecare services that you would otherwise receive by an on-site in-person eye doctor. This may include a vision refraction only with issuance of a corrective prescription for eyeglasses or a comprehensive eye health and vision analysis including an ocular health assessment, vision eyewear measurement, discussion of eye health and vision exam results with an eyecare professional remotely and issuance of a corrective prescription for eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.
To open the study a question was posed about the purpose of eyewear. Respondents were asked if they viewed eyewear as a medical/health device, a fashion accessory, or both. The majority viewed eyewear purely as a medical device (67.4%). 24.8% viewed it as both, while only 7.8% described it as purely a fashion accessory. From here the questionnaire shifted specifically to ocular telemedicine.

Respondents had a low familiarity with ocular telemedicine services, with 75.2% completely unaware. Of those that had some familiarity, only 7.2% were “very aware and familiar”. It appears that, while these services may be growing, they have yet to generate mass awareness.
The remaining questions were split based on awareness of these services. Among those who had familiarity with ocular telemedicine, 12.9% had used these services within the past year. That represents 3.2% of the full sample. The most common events that accompanied the described services were the purchase of either contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses. The least common event described was a diabetic eye screening.

When asked why they tried ocular telemedicine services, respondents most often cited that it was faster to get an appointment, and it was recommended by family/ friends. Slightly less but still popular responses were physician recommendations, comfort with the technology, and advertisements. One interesting result from this study is that the satisfaction rate for ocular telemedicine services is quite high. 78.2% of respondents that used these services expressed satisfaction, with 50.6% being very satisfied. 73% expressed that they were likely to use the same platform in the future, with 49.1% being very likely. Similarly, 74.8% of respondents were likely to recommend the same service to others, with an even 50% being very likely. It appears that these services are creating value for those using them.

For those respondents who had not used an ocular telemedicine service, 26.3% cited the reason as a lack of knowledge about these services. The second most popular reason cited is that respondents have a trusted relationship with their current eyecare professional (22.2%). When asked if they were likely to try ocular telemedicine in the future, answers were mixed, with 26.2% unsure. A good point to end this summary on is the last question posed to those who have not used ocular telemedicine services. When asked what developments would encourage them to try these services in the future, 32.2% of respondents said a recommendation from their eye care professional or eye doctor. 22.5% indicated that learning more about the process could encourage them, and 21.6% said they would be likely to try if their managed vision care plan would cover the service. It seems that these services will continue to become more popular as consumers understand and trust them more.

For more information about the complete Ocular Telemedicine Report, which contains more detailed breakdowns and crosstabs, please contact Steve Kodey (skodey@thevisioncouncil.org).

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