FTC supports telehealth in Washington State

On February 9, Federal Trade Commission staff submitted comment to the Washington State Legislature concerning proposed legislation, Substitute Senate Bill 5411/H.B. 1473, that would, among other things, restrict the use of telehealth eye care in which a practitioner distant from a patient uses data received by telecommunications as the basis for a prescription for corrective lenses.

The proposed legislation would require ophthalmologists and optometrists to conduct complete and comprehensive in-person eye exams prior to providing corrective vision prescriptions, according to the press release from the FTC.

Staff from the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Economics and Competition stated that the bill, if adopted, may reduce competition, access and consumer choice in eye care services and may also raise costs for consumers, according to the release.

The FTC comment explained that the proposed measure, “would restrict the use of telehealth eye care by qualified vision care providers, which would deny consumers the benefits of innovative eye care telehealth technologies.” Also, the bill “might require unnecessary services by mandating a comprehensive examination before prescribing corrective lenses, regardless of the patient’s visual health status, examination history, or other circumstances,” the staff stated in the release.

Christopher Quinn, OD
Christopher J. Quinn

In a statement provided to Primary Care Optometry News in response, Christopher J. Quinn, OD, AOA president, said:

“The AOA recognizes that technology can help doctors of optometry advance patient care; however, safeguards must be in place to ensure that patient health and safety are not compromised by claims that in-person care is unnecessary, and that care rendered via telehealth technology be held to the same standards as in-person visits. It is critical that patient safety must be considered at both the federal and state level. It’s the inaction on enforcement of Federal patient safety laws that is resulting in state after state having to enact basic, common-sense safeguards. The AOA and state associations will continue to be an active resource on technology, quality care standards and false product claims for the government officials who do not want to see public health placed needlessly at risk.”

On February 9, Federal Trade Commission staff submitted comment to the Washington State Legislature concerning proposed legislation, Substitute Senate Bill 5411/H.B. 1473, that would, among other things, restrict the use of telehealth eye care in which a practitioner distant from a patient uses data received by telecommunications as the basis for a prescription for corrective lenses.

The proposed legislation would require ophthalmologists and optometrists to conduct complete and comprehensive in-person eye exams prior to providing corrective vision prescriptions, according to the press release from the FTC.

Staff from the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Economics and Competition stated that the bill, if adopted, may reduce competition, access and consumer choice in eye care services and may also raise costs for consumers, according to the release.

The FTC comment explained that the proposed measure, “would restrict the use of telehealth eye care by qualified vision care providers, which would deny consumers the benefits of innovative eye care telehealth technologies.” Also, the bill “might require unnecessary services by mandating a comprehensive examination before prescribing corrective lenses, regardless of the patient’s visual health status, examination history, or other circumstances,” the staff stated in the release.

Christopher Quinn, OD
Christopher J. Quinn

In a statement provided to Primary Care Optometry News in response, Christopher J. Quinn, OD, AOA president, said:

“The AOA recognizes that technology can help doctors of optometry advance patient care; however, safeguards must be in place to ensure that patient health and safety are not compromised by claims that in-person care is unnecessary, and that care rendered via telehealth technology be held to the same standards as in-person visits. It is critical that patient safety must be considered at both the federal and state level. It’s the inaction on enforcement of Federal patient safety laws that is resulting in state after state having to enact basic, common-sense safeguards. The AOA and state associations will continue to be an active resource on technology, quality care standards and false product claims for the government officials who do not want to see public health placed needlessly at risk.”