Eye care about the future

Virginia protects healthcare innovation, a blueprint for the future

An innovative new technology versus the old way of doing things. It’s a story we’ve heard so often that it’s starting to become a cliche. Yet, nowhere is this conflict more detrimental to those caught in the cross hairs than when it occurs in healthcare. Technology has the potential to bring increased access, lower prices and better outcomes for patients, so it’s particularly reprehensible when battles to ban access to new technology are waged.

We started Simple Contacts with the basic mission of making healthcare more convenient. As a patient myself, I’ve seen first hand how needlessly complicated getting care is and I’ve dedicated a large part of my life to developing technology and services that can change that paradigm.

Our first product offers users a safe and affordable way to take their annual vision test and renew their contact lens prescriptions from their own home using the Simple Contacts app. From the moment we launched in April 2016, a small group of industry players have tried to block us. While some attacks have been personal in nature, their focus has primarily been on passing legislation that prohibits telemedicine. All this has occurred despite widespread support from Ophthalmologists and Optometrists for the safety and promise of the technology.

The Virginia State Legislature, when approached to pass a law that would ban our technology, decided to take a closer look. They spoke to dozens of medical experts and determined that what Simple Contacts and many other telemedicine platforms do is not only safe, but is good for their constituents. Last week, they passed HB 1497, a law that explicitly recognizes the potential of ocular telemedicine and sets common sense guidelines on its use to ensure only high quality care is delivered.

Virginia is the first state to pass these protections, and will serve as a blueprint for others that want to encourage telemedicine to flourish. As product builders, we didn’t anticipate that helping patients would be controversial, but it is clear that some industry players are interested in preserving the old way at any cost. Unfortunately the patients are the ones who bear that cost. So we have no choice — we’ll be there, across the country, engaging with legislators, regulators and groups that want to advance healthcare to protect patient’s interests and fulfill our mission of making healthcare simpler and more convenient.