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Eye Care Beyond Office Walls

By Kristi Bolinger

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Ophthalmic practitioners understand the need to be efficient when seeing patients in the office. The schedule is full and each patient requires excellence in the delivery of care. But have you considered how your practice can extend excellence beyond the walls of your office?

Expectations for the delivery of eye care are being reshaped by technology and societal trends. Our consumer culture that demands higher and higher levels of convenience. Pressure is increasing for ophthalmologists and optometrists as well as practice administrators to think beyond office walls. 

Better Channels of Communication

Communication between your patient and your practice is the most important part of keeping your patients engaged during the days, weeks, and months you don’t see them. Online technology is reinventing your opportunity to communicate with patients. Your practice now has a cost effective way to deliver an underlying message about your readiness to deliver care—a message which goes beyond the walls of your office. 

For example, when your practice gives patients the ability to schedule appointments and pay bills online, it shows that obtaining care is efficient. By offering patients the most convenient possible opportunities to interact with your staff, you strengthen their relationship with your practice, make administrative processes easier for all, and help patients feel better about their overall care. 

A sophisticated patient portal can make it easier for patients to view test results and eliminate the need for them to wait anxiously for a phone call. Results can be sent to the patient via the portal immediately after being reviewed by the provider. Here again your practice also sends an underlying message, letting patients know you are ready, willing, and able to keep them informed about their health.  

Taken individually, advances in how medical practices communicate with patients may not seem that significant, but combined they are profound. To achieve the full benefits of online communication, your practice needs a patient engagement platform that is fully integrated with your EHR and PM system.

Home Monitoring Devices

Expect ophthalmic practices to move beyond the standard Amsler grid in the years ahead. Home monitoring devices show exciting promise as an opportunity to extend the reach of eye care practice. These devices offer the patient more autonomy in the treatment of disease1 yet strengthen their connection with you away from the office.   

Remote monitoring solutions may be used for earlier detection of wet macular degeneration and other retinal diseases2. Glaucoma patients may use home-based tonometry solutions to monitor fluctuations and spikes in intraocular pressure3

In another example, researchers are developing alternatives to standard automated perimetry that use tablets, smartphones, or head-mounted displays. Over time, these may be adapted for at home use. There are also smartphone-based disc-imaging technologies which may eventually prove to have value in at-home monitoring in patients with glaucoma4. These emerging advanced technologies may mean more opportunities for your practice to engage patients outside of the office.

Excellent Service Meets Excellent Care

Thinking beyond the walls means not only meeting patients’ expectations for excellent eye care but exceeding their expectations for service. It sets the stage for mutual respect. The demands on the time of ophthalmic practitioners are tremendous. Likewise, eye care is just one of many demands on the time of your patients. Not only must your office run efficiently but you must give the patient an opportunity to be more efficient and proactive in their own efforts to seek care. As time moves forward, this mutual respect will help keep patients coming back.

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1 Livia Faes, Lucas M. Bachmann & Dawn A. Sim, Home monitoring as a useful extension of modern tele-ophthalmology, Eye (Nature.com), May 12, 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41433-020-0964-3.
2 Anat Loewenstein, MD, “Remote Retinal Monitoring in the Time of COVID-19,” Retinal Physician, June 1, 2020, https://www.retinalphysician.com/issues/2020/june-2020/remote-retinal-monitoring-in-the-time-of-covid-19.
3 Kateki Vinod, MD, and Sarwat Salim, MD, FACS, Home-Based Glaucoma Monitoring, Glaucoma Today, July/August 2020, https://glaucomatoday.com/articles/2020-july-aug/home-based-glaucoma-monitoring.
4 Ibid.

 

Kristi Bolinger

Director, Specialty Solutions

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