COVID-19

Virtual Practice

One of the most notable trends emerging with Covid-19 has been the shift to virtual business operations.

One of the most notable trends emerging with Covid-19 has been the shift to virtual business operations which impacts both team management and patient care.

Team collaboration

It’s important to do what you can to keep staff informed about changes to your business, and to also to keep them motivated and on task. Collaboration and communication tools go a long way, especially those that allow you to connect in meaningful and immediate ways – one-on-one and as a group.

First and foremost, consider how existing tools can be repurposed. For example, if you’re already subscribed to Office 365™, you may have access to Microsoft Teams™ which includes video and messenger services.

  • Video: A little bit of face time goes a long way to making staff feel connected and comfortable. Zoom™ is currently the most popular video conferencing option, with free options and is relatively easy to use. Here are a handful of resources to get you started:
  • Instant messaging: Quick and nimble communication amongst team members is essential for a productive virtual office. Most important are visibility and keeping inbox clutter to a minimum. Slack is currently the most popular messaging platform and has a free option for small teams.

Supporting patients with teleoptometry

Many Optometrists are using technology to provide eye health and vision care to support patients. The below information is intended to help should you pursue this route.

Regulatory guidelines

Teleoptometry is generally encouraged by Canadian regulators provided precautions are taken to ensure quality of care and protection of patient information.

The Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC) Policy on Teleoptometry outlines standard business practices plus a handful of teleoptometry considerations, such as:

  • Ensure digital health information is appropriately stored and protected.
  • Comply with relevant legislation and regulatory policies as it applies to current and evolving technologies used in teleoptometry.

Provincial associations with teleoptometry policies can be found here:

The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) defers to provincial and the previously mentioned FORAC policy if provincial guidance is not available. The CAO Statement on Teleoptemetry also recommends that Optometrists should:

  • Purchase cybersecurity insurance;
  • Ensure professional liability insurance covers teleoptometry; and,
  • Implement secure patient communications. (i.e. email encryption, secure file exchange)

Teleoptometry options

The CAO Teleoptmetry During Covid-19 Guide provides detailed information to help Optometrists set-up a virtual practice. Options summarized within this section aims to help you make technology decisions based on the needs of your business, patients and employees.

Telephone and email

While telephone and email are easiest, keep in mind that neither phone or email are PIPEDA or HIPAA compliant for teleoptometry.

Secure online portals

Various online portals offer secure video, correspondence and other built-in features designed to support patient and practitioner needs. Below is a summary of such services.

 

Thank you to our partners

The Council for Healthy Eyes Canada (CHEC) very much appreciates ongoing leadership from our industry partners in helping to found the highly successful ThinkAboutYourEyes.ca (TAYE) integrated marketing, communications and data collection campaign. We also would like to thank Canadian eye care professionals such as Optometrists at this very challenging time.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only. The contents of this document are provided in good faith; however, we make no representation of warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information in this document. Under no circumstances shall CHEC be held legally liable