On this episode of the Telehealth Heroes Podcast, Dr. Christopher Wolfe talks about how he uses telehealth to supplement his physical practice and warns patients about imitation telehealth services that ignore important factors in eye health. Auto-renewal prescription services may be convenient, but they’re also dubious!
Dr. Christopher Wolfe, OD has been in the field optometry since 2008—and possibly even earlier when you consider that his father was an optometrist too. He’s held many important positions throughout his education and career: president of the American Optometric Student Association, Chair of the American Optometric Association’s State Government Relations Committee, and the Legislative Chair for the Nebraska Optometric Association. Dr. Wolfe is also an expert in healthcare billing and coding, and teaches online courses through Eyecode Education. Yet, despite all his knowledge and experience in the field, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit he had to learn how to use telehealth just like everybody else.
For Dr. Wolfe, one of his reservations with telehealth was what to do when he couldn’t solve a patient’s problems over a video call. His big break-through happened when he realized he didn’t have to. He had a telehealth call with a patient, but couldn’t fully diagnose or treat them through the video feed. So, he simply told that patient to come into the office. It was a simple solution, but the patient really didn’t want to be seen in-person; without the initial telehealth call that diagnosed the severity of the situation, he may not have gotten the care he needed.
“I think there are so many people that think if I commit to this, if I start this conversation virtually, then I have to have an answer for the patient virtually. And you just don’t…It’s not like it’s telemedicine or in-person, it’s both,” Wolfe said during his interview.
However, even though he feels he’s successfully integrated telehealth into his clinical practice, he had a warning against what he called “dubious telehealth services.” Most of these in the field of optometry come in the form of services that auto-renew prescriptive lenses. Here’s what he had to say:
“I think there can be this real challenge within telehealth when a patient is coming in to try to get a renewal of a prescription. Cause they want more of a thing and potentially they could do an online service that’s basically having them read a chart and then renewing whatever it was, but they’re missing all the other things that can go wrong with their eye health. In many cases, it’s a dubious telehealth service that’s kind of masquerading as telehealth, but all it is is just a conduit for a company to sell you more stuff.”
To catch the full interview, listen to the episode!