I’d like you to consider Formula 1 for a moment. When engineers, aerodynamicists and designers receive a set of technical regulations, they spend as much time looking for gaps in what they are permitted to do as they spend designing compliant cars. That’s the name of the game in F1 – pushing and exploiting each regulation to its very limit and, if it can be gotten away with, beyond.

So, should we be surprised if a company in optometric retail takes a similar approach and looks for flex in legislation that can be capitalised on? Brillen UK’s new remote refraction business model (https://www.opticianonline.net/features/in-focus-o...) – and I think it’s important to describe it as a business model because it isn’t a patient care-led model – has benefitted from loopholes within the Opticians Act.

I don’t blame them for trying, either. I have said many times in recent years that the technology providing the momentum for remote testing technology is moving faster than the regulator can keep up with. Why would they not try and bring a technology model that has worked in mainland Europe into a country where the regulator has effectively been sleepwalking?

We’ve seen from the pandemic that telemedicine is going to play a larger role in optometry in the next few years, but I cannot help but feel that Brillen UK’s patient journey is overly complex and one that has been designed to fit around getting the remote technology compliant with legislation rather than revolutionising the user experience.

Many will question the use of non GOC-registered overseas optometrists too. If you look at platforms like Digital Optometrics in the US, it has buy-in from practitioners and patients because everything is built around convenience, and that practitioners are in the same country.

I would like to take a moment to thank Optician’s readers and commercial clients for their support during 2021. The last 12 months have been better than those before it, but it has still been a tremendously difficult year for the industry and those that have lost loved ones. Here’s hoping that 2022 is another year of improvement.