Business in focus

The importance of “future-proofing” updated optical business standards was highlighted at the latest General Optical Council meeting


Innovative optical practices that operate outside the traditional “bricks and mortar” model have been considered in updated business guidelines.

The General Optical Council (GOC) approved a public consultation on draft standards for business registrants at its latest meeting (28 February, London).

Speaking at the meeting, the GOC’s standards manager, Natalie Heppenstall, explained that the draft standards were designed to take into consideration evolving business models, including those where a practice operates outside of a single “bricks and mortar” premises.

“The intention is that this will apply to various forms of telemedicine,” she explained.

Domiciliary care is another area where staff are not operating in the same place each time, Ms Heppenstall added.

She highlighted that the new approach aims to bring the standards for business registrants up-to-date.

“They are intended to be complementary to the individual standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians,” she explained.

While only registered optical businesses are required to comply with the standards, Ms Heppenstall emphasised that non-registered businesses would also be strongly encouraged to follow the rules.

GOC council member, Mike Galvin, highlighted that there has been broad support on the need to update the rules in discussions so far.

“There was no argument with what we are trying to do with the standards in terms of the principles laid out,” he added.

Patient or customer?

Fellow GOC council member, Dr Josie Forte raised a question about the repeated use of the word “patient” in the draft standards document.

She acknowledged that while it was important to recognise the increasingly clinical role of eye health professionals, there would be some business registrants who would feel left out by this terminology.

“I understand that it is an important aspect of future-proofing…But I think we need to be a little bit careful that we don’t forget the other end of what we do,” she shared.

“This review is talking about “patients, patients, patients” and, actually, there may be businesses that currently see them as customers,” Dr Forte added.

The public consultation on the draft Standards for Optical Businesses will take place between April and August this year, with the final standards scheduled to be signed off at the November GOC meeting and published in December.