For any practice that is not currently offering enhanced services and wishes to, a key first step is to engage with their local optical committee (LOC) as they are the gateway to enhanced services. When it comes to an LOC supporting a practice to rollout enhanced services, it is far easier to do so with people familiar to the organisation.
Many LOCs will host regular regional meetings throughout the year, during which practitioners can talk to representatives of their LOC about the enhanced services that are available in their area, how they work, what is involved and how the LOC can support. In Devon, for example, we host four regional meetings a year that are attended by local clinicians, consultants from within the hospital setting and representatives from NHS England. During these meetings we tend to engage with more practitioners than we do at any other point of the year.
Practices can begin by visiting their LOC’s website where many will have both a list of upcoming events, as well as details of the enhanced services that can be offered. The contact details of the LOC will be available if they want to get in touch directly.
LOC Support Unit is also a good point of contact, as are the unit’s optical leads who are there to support LOCs in engaging with practitioners and speaking to them about enhanced services.
“Visiting the practice and sitting in on a clinic, as well as talking to the practitioners who are delivering it, will provide useful insight for when it comes to them implementing it in their practice”
Engaging mattersEngaging with your LOC is particularly important for the delivery of enhanced services because having a network of colleagues who can support you during the implementation and delivery of a service is invaluable.
Working in isolation in enhanced services is not a great place to be. If you are involved with an enhanced service, particularly when you are new to it, having a peer who you can call and ask about a patient or some software, for example, is very beneficial. The LOC will be there to support too, but colleague support works particularly well.
It is very important that if a practice is not involved in an enhanced service and it is of particular interest to them, they reach out and go to talk to a practice that is already running the enhanced service they are interested in.
Visiting the practice and sitting in on a clinic, as well as talking to the practitioners who are delivering it, will provide useful insight when it comes to them implementing it in their practice. During this visit, it is important to also speak to the administrator of the service in the practice, as well as front of house staff about how the pathway works and how they deal with the paperwork. This is useful because while most enhanced services cover core clinical competencies for dispensing opticians and optometrists, we have found that the practices that are successful in delivering an enhanced service are the ones that have buy-in from their whole practice team.
Prior to establishing an enhanced service, practices should consider the logistics of offering it. Are you open on a Saturday or a Bank Holiday Monday to offer minor eye condition services, for example? And what is the expectation of the people who will use the service? If the practice is shut at the weekend, which can be a particularly busy time for some enhanced services, will it work?
Offering an enhanced service is a new patient journey and many things need to be considered, including: how a patient is booked onto the system, how the paperwork is dealt with, how the follow-up conversations are delivered by the practice staff, and much more. You can be the world’s best practitioner, but if you are working in isolation, that service will not work well in your practice.
“At Devon LOC, if we know that a practice is interested in offering an enhanced service or is in the process of meeting the requirements to do so, we call them up to see how they are getting on”
A helping hand
The LOC can support practices that wish to introduce an enhanced service by checking that it has Quality in Optometry in place, checking that it has the required indemnity insurance in place and that the necessary accreditation has been completed. Devon LOC asks for copies of the relevant WOPEC certificates. If any of this is missing, the LOC can provide the practice with the information required to put this in place. LOC’s use Primary Eyecare Companies to deliver the local contracts and can advise on who you need to speak to for further information. The Primary Eyecare company will run the actual contract and its Clinical Governance and Performance Leads are also there to help.
At Devon LOC, if we know that a practice is interested in offering an enhanced service or is in the process of meeting the requirements to do so, we call them up to see how they are getting on.
The LOC hosts launch events for new services, which provide practitioners with the opportunity to go through the administration requirements for a specific service and answer any questions.
“Overall, offering enhanced services can provide a tremendous amount of job satisfaction”
There is no I in team
From a practice perspective, when introducing an enhanced service, Devon LOC recommends that an enhanced services champion is appointed in store. This person can be an optical consultant or a dispensing optician, but it must be someone who is on the shop floor and has an understanding of how the pathways work, can help train staff, can attend any meetings and who is passionate about why we run enhanced services in practices.
Overall, offering enhanced services can provide a tremendous amount of job satisfaction. Not only are you helping colleagues in secondary care who are falling over themselves with capacity issues, but you are also dealing with a cohort of patients who are stuck on a waiting list or in A&E and you will feel empowered because you can genuinely make a difference. Although optometry and dispensing has a core business of sight testing and supplying of contact lenses and spectacles to people, enhanced services covers core skills and, if you enjoy that, you should get involved.
Image credit: Getty/Click_and_Photo
- As told to Emily McCormick.