An Irish first, Specsavers has launched a free nationwide sight and hearing consultation service offering access to vital advice and care from optometrists and audiologists, via video and telephone link.
The service is designed to cover concerns ranging from eye health and changes in the quality of sight, to contact lens aftercare and audiology health and aftercare.
Delivered through a secure platform, the new service is open to everyone, whether or not they are currently a Specsavers customer, and can be accessed from any digital device. If a customer is unable to use video, they will be able to get expert advice over the phone.
Specsavers is one of a number of organisations that are fast-tracking changes to their services to respond to the evolving needs of customers in the current crisis and the longer term. It plans to return to business as usual, as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
“With our stores currently only able to offer emergency care to a limited number of customers, we have been exploring innovative alternatives to in-person appointments. This is clearly significant given the present restrictions, but it is a service that we plan to continue for the long-term to ensure that everyone – especially those who are particularly vulnerable – can access the care and support that they need,” says Marie Burke, optometrist and store director at Specsavers Bandon.
“Lockdown is affecting all of our lives and there are already fears that people are delaying accessing essential health services in the current situation. This solution removes a number of barriers, especially with health services already under immense pressure. We hope that Specsavers RemoteCare, our video consultation service, will in some way help people who might otherwise have gone to their GP or to the local A&E unnecessarily.”
Specsavers Bandon Audiologist Liz Duffy, adds: “Without access to expert advice and care from our audiologists and opticians, quality of life could be greatly impacted and wider health put at risk – this is of particular concern for older people.”
Stores will also be able to advise customers on how they can locate their prescription and buy new glasses by directing them to Specsavers’ recently launched online glasses store.
The importance of the RemoteCare service was demonstrated during a recent pilot in Ireland ahead of the national rollout.
A vital intervention was made for a Specsavers patient, whose sudden onset of blurry vision was linked to a minor stroke. The video consultation meant she could be quickly referred to her GP.
“I am so thankful to Specsavers for continuing to offer an emergency service during this time but even more thankful for their new video service,” she says.
“Our eyesight is so important, so you can imagine how distressed I was when it all of a sudden it went blurry. Being able to see an optical expert so quickly was amazing and to see the calming, friendly face on the video was very reassuring. Knowing he could actually see me and not just rely on my verbal description made a distressing situation all the more bearable. I am so grateful for the expert service and their quick referral to my GP.”
“RemoteCare is a vital tool to help people during these uncertain times,” Marie says. ‘The video element of this new service can help to come to a diagnosis quicker in some situations than a phone consultation.
“The technology ensures we can actually see the patients and their eyes, and depending on the condition, it can help me make a much better diagnosis. It is also much easier to build rapport with the patient and put them at ease, creating a more personal and enjoyable interaction than via a phone call.
By seeing patients virtually, face-to-face, they feel reassured that we are basing our advice on something that we may be able to see.”
For more information on eye and hearing health visit www.specsavers.ie.