By Margery Weinstein
Review of Optometric Business
Feb. 1, 2023
In October 2022, Visibly, previously known only as Opternative, appointed Taylor Tedder, OD, as its first chief medical officer. The company had recently received FDA clearance for its online vision test. Here is what Dr. Tedder told us about how Visibly intends for consumers to use its technology, and how the company hopes it can partner with eyecare professionals.
A Goal of Increasing Access to Eyecare
“We are driven to increase accessibility and convenience for those who need eyecare the most. COVID changed how consumers think about healthcare, and we at Visibly have made it our mission to equip eyecare providers with digital tools that can help meet consumers where they want to be met. We achieve that by partnering with those who share our belief in a consumer-centric eyecare experience,” says Dr. Tedder.
“As CMO, my role will be to focus on advancing our clinical quality initiatives, increasing access to care and improving outcomes for both our consumers and our partners. Prior to this role, I spent 15 years in the optical and eyecare industry as both a practicing optometrist and clinical leader. Throughout my career I have always been passionate about leaning into innovation to increase quality of care and augment traditional care delivery,” he said.
“Furthermore, I’m thrilled that the team sought to bring on a Chief Medical Officer to help shape and implement Visibly’s strategic roadmap. This is a perfect inflection point in our company’s history to do so, and our team feels that a clinical perspective in the room, working hand-in-hand with our talented technology team, matters and will ensure the most collaborative approach going forward.”
You May Have Misinformation About Visibly
“We can certainly understand how some ECPs may feel regarding Visibly’s technology. Let me clear up a key point, as there has been misinformation out about what our solution does and does not do,” says Dr. Tedder, noting:
What it is: A test to aid in the evaluation of visual acuity to augment (support) clinical decision making
What it is not: An online refraction, a replacement for an initial exam, or a replacement for a comprehensive exam
“We believe vision is the most critical human sense: visual acuity stability (or changes to acuity) can be a leading indicator that a more significant visual health concern could be present. Our tools help detect those changes in visual acuity,” he said.
“Due to our clinical validation steps, about half of people who sign up on our platform receive a renewed prescription. Our tools and the providers who use them refer the other half of patients for in-person comprehensive exams.”
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A Desire to Partner with ECPs to Improve Patient Care
“Most constituents are aligned with the starting point, which is the need for more consumer education and engagement around the importance of eyecare. Additionally, we agree with groups like the American Optometric Association that consumers should be properly educated on the care that they seek,” said Dr. Tedder.
He cites the following facts which he says ECPs should consider as we look forward into the future of the profession:
- Today, only half of American adults get routine (annual) eye exams.1
- Myopia prevalence will double by 2050.2
- Access to providers continues to be a growing concern, especially in rural and under-served communities.3
- Many Americans find healthcare to be too expensive and defer or don’t seek care.4
Questions persist about how eyecare providers are going to tackle these issues now and in the future, he says.
“How do we foster a collaborative approach that protects consumers, but also rewards innovation and investment with online eyecare solutions that drive access, convenience and reduced cost? Consumers, providers, payors and others all win,” says Dr. Tedder.
“How do we align all key stakeholders on care delivery and state-by-state telehealth laws to continue to evolve and elevate the profession? Optometrists are well-qualified to use these tools; however, in certain states ODs have more restrictions on the practice of telehealth compared to MDs.
Ultimately, the right type of care for each consumer should be a joint decision between the doctor and the patient. We trust that once a consumer is properly educated they will make the right decisions about their care.”
What’s New at Visibly?
“There is a lot to be excited about with the existing Visibly platform of solutions!” says Dr. Tedder.
“First, our core product is an acuity tool called VDAP (Visibly Digital Acuity Product), a version of which recently received 510(k) clearance by the FDA. We use digital technology and advanced algorithms to help evaluate whether a patient has normal vision, either with or without correction from the comfort of home,” he points out.
“Our Performance Data, including our prospective, multi-center clinical study that evaluated the safety and effectiveness of VDAP compared to an ETDRS Visual Acuity Lane Test, demonstrated that the safety and effectiveness of VDAP are substantially equivalent to those of its predicate device 5. We believe this should give providers the utmost confidence that their patients are getting the highest standard of care”
“Second, our next-generation SDAP product is a revolutionary single-device platform, which uses voice-guided prompts to allow our customers more freedom in how they interact and complete the acuity test,” says Dr. Tedder.
Dr. Tedder says Visibly’s platform creates “unique opportunities to expand, connect, or re-connect with consumers to provide adjunctive care to in-office comprehensive exams” with the following:
- Staying Connected: opportunity to increase connectivity and retention with existing patients through digital vision check-ins, remote monitoring of vision stability, or for simple postoperative vision checks
- Engaging more Consumers: adding online vision testing to your CRM arsenal can elevate consumers’ perception of a practice staying on the cutting edge of innovation and increase e-commerce potential
- Reducing Friction: provide a convenient renewal solution to those who are happy and stable with their current Rx, can keep that patient engaged and prevent leakage outside of the practice all while driving education on the importance of vision care
“In conclusion, we will spend considerable resources this year to continue working with our partners and the FDA on solutions that expand access to care, including advancing online refractive and health technology. Given we now have a roadmap with the FDA on how to implement online-based vision testing technology, we anticipate further deepening our product portfolio to continue to expand our ability to provide eyecare to those who need it most, in the most cost-effective and convenient way. We look forward to continuing to advocate for ECPs, and their critical role in driving better healthcare solutions and outcomes, as we all work together to advance eyecare and protect the most fundamental human sense.”
1. Source: The Vision Council US Optical Market Eyewear Overview, March 2018
2. Essilor Luxottica Capital Market Day – September 2019, Fortune Business Insights, and Essilor – Vision Impact Institute