St. Louis, Missouri—February 20, 2019 – VisionServe Alliance has launched a pilot program of its new web-based patient referral system known as “VisionRefer!” The web-based referral system will help make referrals of low vision patients by their doctors to vision rehabilitation centers nationwide easy, fast, and HIPAA compliant. The goal is to make VisionRefer! available to every ophthalmologist in the country by year end and to increase referrals to VisionServe members.

Developed with seed money from the Gibney Family Foundation and in partnership with the tech team at Lighthouse Works (a subsidiary of Lighthouse Central Florida in Orlando, Florida) the VisionRefer! pilot programs have begun in three states: Florida, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. Florida began its pilot in October, 2018, and Oklahoma and New Hampshire pilots will launch in March at NewView Oklahoma and Future In Sight in New Hampshire to test the efficacy and impact of state-wide single provider systems. It is projected that a nationwide roll out will begin in late summer.

The supervising agency of the twelve-month pilot program of VisionRefer! in Florida is the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind (Florida ASB), where they have begun introducing VisionRefer! to ophthalmologists statewide. Referrals are already successfully being received, beginning with an initial referral made by an ophthalmologist and sent to the Manasota Lighthouse on January 11, 2019.

“VisionRefer! is a 21st-century solution that will allow physicians to easily and quickly refer patients of all ages for vision rehabilitation services,” notes Roxann Mayros, the President of VisionServe Alliance who came up with the idea of VisionRefer!  “I am excited to see the pilot project already generating referrals, just like we knew it would.”

Florida ASB and 17 other Florida VisionServe member agencies received additional funding support for the pilot project from Florida Division of Blind Services to create marketing materials such as a tear- off flyer, a door hanger and print ads. Additional marketing support is being provided by the Florida Society of Ophthalmologists and their partner, Eschenbach Optik, who will begin traveling statewide introducing VisionRefer! to ophthalmologists.

“We hope that this pilot project will share the benefits of vision rehabilitation services to patients and their practices and dispel myths about our professions and fears that patients will be diverted from their care,” says Dr. Elly du Pre, Executive Director of Florida ASB. “Our goal is to make adoption of VisionRefer! easy by helping them put VisionRefer! on their desktops and provide handouts to give to their patients.”

Originally founded in 1987 as the National Council of Private Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCPABVI) and renamed in 2008, VisionServe Alliance is a consortium of 118 nonprofits located throughout the United States and Canada that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or with severe vision loss. Members include organizations focusing on national advocacy and/or service issues, employment and manufacturing, adult vision rehabilitation, K-12 residential and on-line schools, early intervention and pre-school, dog guides, low vision clinics, and braille production. Members engage regional and national leaders in building a better world through services to people with vision loss by promoting leadership development, ethical management, quality services, and professional growth.

###