The “Scan” is not a “Scam”
It became obvious to the doctors at Chesterfield Optometric Center during early 2018 that leaving the decision to select an annual retinal imaging test was leading to an inferior eye examination and putting those patients who said “no” at risk for future loss of vision due to undetected eye disease. As we contemplated when and how to let our patients know that these tests were – in our opinion – necessary for our doctors to care for their eyes personally, ethically, responsibly. These tests had been in use in our practice for decades and had always – following standard medical profession guidelines – been considered separate from an eye and vision examination and were/are an extra cost when performed. When we explained our desire to our team members, we suggested we “ease into the plan” and start early 2019. One caring and perceptive member made this statement that demonstrated her understanding of the ‘ethos’ of our practice: “If it’s the right thing to do, why not start today?” – We did.
Effective on May 1, 2020 all patients will be scanned according to office protocol once a year. While the fee for this scan “can be” covered by an insurance plan, usually it is not (we hope this will change with understanding and acceptance of the improvement in care they provide). While most of our patients were already electing to take advantage of the imaging (recall we have been utilizing it for almost 20 years), they were now either paying LESS or getting MORE as we added the iWellness test. For those who had always “passed” on the imaging, there was a mixed response. While many were very impressed with the level of technology and detail of the imaging and expressed a “I didn’t know what I was missing” mindset, a few have been skeptical, even calling our utilization of new technology for their own health and wellness a “Scam”.
While we are sad whenever a patient chooses to leave our office out of any type of dissatisfaction with our care, we ultimately have to ‘stay high’ and see the big picture of how the care we provide is an integral part of the whole health care delivery system. We have not provided examinations ‘just for glasses or contact lenses;’ in the past 30+ years and we never will.
So, while providing annual Ultra widefield retinal images on all patients every year, and providing annual OCT “iWellness” images for those who are diabetic is NOT “standard of care” – it is the standard of “your care” at Chesterfield Optometric Center. If you were to contact the legal entity that oversees optometry in Virginia, they would be hesitant to specify any specific “list of tests” that are considered the ‘Standard of Care’ – that is because it is constantly evolving with new knowledge and new technology. However, there is always a “minimum standard” which defines what is expected – a practitioner who falls below the ‘standard of care’ should be disciplined. In the medical field, practice just at the ‘Standard of Care’ is like a passenger airliner flying “just above the ground” – not too smart or safe. These images are not part of the “minimum standard” – most eye doctors do NOT require them, and some eye doctors do not have the technology in their office at all. But we are not concerned about the “minimum” – only about providing the “maximum” in our attention to detail, our care for you and our precision and excellence.
We realize that “authority does not trump science” – and while we will always “fly above” the minimal limits set by our authorities (the state board, the insurance companies, the professional associations), we will also “engage in” and “wrestle with” new technologies as they become available – testing, using, investing and incorporating those that truly bring us closer to our ultimate goal – to make sure our patient’s vision is the very BEST it can be for their ENTIRE LIFE. Because…