A few months ago, 2020 health in the UK published a report called the Foresight Project - A discussion of the potential impact of technology on the UK optical sector to 2030
. While this report is based on the UK, much of the research and findings is applicable to Canada. There is no doubt that new technologies will impact public access to information, diagnostics, understanding and behaviour around the world. Care Shifting to Patient's Domain
Today’s patients are Internet-savvy and have access to an increased level of information to become actively involved in their own care. From their health professionals, they expect a clear report on their health status and as much information as possible, so they can participate in their own care. App-based disease monitoring, smartphone solutions, and smart contact lenses like glaucoma pressure monitoring will further shift the responsibility of care further into the patient’s domain. A new responsibility emerges as professionals will need to figure out what patient-generated-data to trust. Regulators' Role
Regulators are going to have to keep track of technological developments to discern what is in the public interest. There will be a need for regulators to determine what represents risk and what represents consumer rights. Examples:
Adapting to Disruption
- The operation of online dispensing businesses in Canada has had regulators concerned about the prioritization of business above health. This has initiated review of outdated operating frameworks and start developing new standards to guide eye care professionals through dispensing safely online.
- At the same time, regulators are increasing taking the role of informing the public about the risk of self-dispensing over receiving care from a professional through innovative initiatives like the Love Your Eyes public awareness campaign.
In the next 10-20 years, automation of processes and improvement in technology will require opticians to embrace multi disciplinary team working, cutting-edge technologies, digital dispensing,refracting, and expand into areas like orthoptics. It has been said that the only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape it. Disruptions in the industry will continuously force everything to keep evolving. To thrive, regulators and professionals must work proactively through disruptions.