September 21, 2022

Enthusiasm to work together underpinned The Optical Suppliers’ Association’s first E-Health Focus Group, with plans to set the agenda for empowering eye care practitioners with the most advanced technology.

Action is needed to realise the full potential of E-Health but confidence in accountability for the profession was a significant concern, along with changing regulation, said the group’s chairman, Karl Jeebaun –

“We need to build a set of standards for E-Health and to engage with everyone concerned. One of the barriers to adopting new technology is the ECP’s question of if it can be used safely. With many businesses providing technology and IT practice management systems we are looking to optimise what we can achieve by working together. Building a bridge between instruments and software will ensure that new technology can be used for optimum patient care.


“There are many challenges, particularly issues of liability and who might end up before the GOC.  We have seen this being used as a block to taking digital images already. Conservatism is currently delaying the adoption of digital technologies in many practices, and we are eager to understand everyone’s perspective.”


Philip Mullins of the National Eyecare Group, agreed –

“Independents need to embrace new technology, but the PMS is the central core of everything.  We also need to engage with the NHS and to establish the most effective pathway for care.”

The group discussed many of the issues of integrating E-Health devices, tele-medicine and apps into traditional eye care, which need standardisation and verification –

“We must ensure any platform meets a minimum standard and to ensure the result would be the equivalent if the device was used in tele-medicine or a clinical setting – analysis of visual acuity is a good case. At the most basic level we need an effective way of knowing how far the patient is from the screen,” added Karl.


With patient care being the primary concern, the group agreed to –

*identify all stakeholders and their sub-specialties within E-Health and the ophthalmic sectors

*work with all stakeholders to develop guidance and standards for safe use of technology

*meet requirements of regulators including MRHA and GOC

*define the distinction between devices suitable for patient use or use by a qualified clinician

*address concerns the profession may have


Vice chairman of the group, Jason Higginbotham, urged everyone with an interest to become involved –

“There is an opportunity for everyone to have a voice and to add their expertise as we create new pathways. By setting specific definitions and minimum standards we have the potential to be a global leader.  Our businesses want to function on an international platform and beacon status would be very useful. We have a real opportunity – no one wants to stifle innovation but at the moment there is no clear path.”

The group discussed the complex changing regulatory landscape. OSA regulatory consultant, Ann Blackmore, provided a detailed update on long-awaited MHRA plans.


The next E-Health Focus group meeting will be announced shortly. Contact Marianne MacRitchie: [email protected] for more information.