Dr. Saya Nagori's Fight for Inexpensive Eye Health
Dr. Saya Nagori works hard and is dedicated to her work.
I know this because I first spoke with Dr. Nagori a few hours after her boyfriend surprised her with a ring and asked her to marry him.
Between calls to aunts, uncles and old friends from college, Dr. Nagori talked to me for forty-five minutes about her innovative telemedicine business, SimpleContacts.
SimpleContacts is… well… pretty simple. The company’s technologists have developed an app that allows contact wearers to test their eyes on their phone. The results are then interpreted by a team of ophthalmologists and the contacts are shipped immediately after.
The service is only available to people who are otherwise healthy, and just need to renew the contact lens prescription they currently have. If they need a stronger prescription, they are not eligible to use SimpleContacts’ services.
Dr. Nagori estimates that 80% of prescription renewals fall into this category.
Some 500,000 contact lens wearers have been served in the comfort of their homes by SimpleContacts to date, and at a cost lower than a conventional visit to an optometrist. This includes people who live in outlying areas for whom a trip to the optometrist may be an all-day affair.
SimpleContacts has decreased the price and increased access to eye care. After years of debate about doing exactly that, the government should embrace Dr. Nagori with open arms, right?
Congress has been fairly supportive of telemedicine so far, although it is largely undiscussed.
How Government Hinders Advances in Health Care
The biggest hurdle for Dr. Nagori has been at the state level. Medicine is largely regulated by states. She is subject to 43 separate sets of regulations. Seven states will not allow her to operate.
Her business has 43 masters. Not all of whom fully understand what she does.
Put another way, she has a battle on at least 43 different fronts.
The Vision Council estimates that 47% of Americans accounted for 113.9 million eye exams in 2015. Nearly a six billion dollar market.
If 80% of that market can be serviced by telemedicine providers like SimpleContacts, who is losing that business?
In an effort to provide eye care to a broader population at a more reasonable price, Dr. Nagori has to fight the entire optometric industry in 43 states.
Dr. Nagori is Seeing Success
But she is having success. She gets great reviews. Lacy from Redding, California says "It was so simple and easy! I have three boys and don't always have time to get a sitter and go to the doctor. Simple Contacts saved time, and money, both of which aren't always in full supply."
Lacy might have added that rural areas like Redding don't have the best coverage by health care professionals, making going to the doctor even more complicated.
Even with a new family and arrows coming at her from 43 directions, Dr. Nagori still finds time to mentor other physician entrepreneurs. She is hosting a Physician Entrepreneur Summit in October. Find out more information here.
For a deeper dive into Dr. Nagori’s effort’s listen to my interview with her on the Medicated USA podcast.