I first discovered the practice management software system, Opticabase, in 2008 while browsing some of the smaller stands at Optrafair. On meeting optometrist and programmer, Michael Prais, he explained very simply how his software could work for me.
At the time I was a domiciliary-only provider with no staff and Opticabase helped me to keep organised. Eight years later, Park Lane Opticians has five staff and is unrecognisable from its beginnings in my home office with Opticabase on a laptop.
In 2008, I rescued an old practice, grew it, moved it and rebranded. Opticabase grew with us. I started with its domiciliary software and upgraded two years later to ‘Reception Plus,’ before upgrading further still to the ‘Dispensing’ programme. Today we use ‘Opticabase Clinical,’ with full support for £120 per month.
Before upgrading to ‘Opticabase Clinical’ last year, I admit that I was a little sceptical of performing an eye examination with a mouse in my hand instead of a pen – I’m not a touch-typer and would lose vital eye contact with my patient – but I didn’t maintain eye contact previously when I was writing either.
"Opticabase is designed by an optometrist who understands all the little details about day-to-day practice procedures, as well as our responsibilities as clinicians"
However, with reassurance from Mr Prais about the benefits that the additional software could bring, I upgraded and would now never go back to handwritten notes.
All old handwritten notes, letters and fields have now been scanned, filed and labelled in patient folders and I no longer have to fumble through papers on my already full desk to find the last dispense, hospital letter or exam.
The top of an A4 sheet of paper is printed off with a patient’s data before their appointment. If the patient has a dispense, I put the sheet back in the printer to add the new prescription and recommendations for the handover. After the dispense, the same sheet is processed once more, this time with the spectacles or contact lens order on. The document stays with the order until it is collected and the sheet is then shredded.
Utilising this software, the eye examination is split into five areas – prelims, refraction, ocular health, FIT and final. Each step can be completed quickly and in any order using the ‘As B4’ button before tweaking the changes.
Interestingly, patients often scan down the prelim page when it’s on screen, giving me the answer to history and symptom questions before I even ask.
Initially it took me a little while to set up my examination drop down lists and my preferred default wording that is used by the software, but having completed this carefully, the ocular health screen can now be filled in quickly and thoroughly.
On the refraction screen, a patient’s last prescription is displayed at the top, and it is quick and intuitive to fill in. I often make a point of speaking the final prescription aloud as I input it because I feel this shows the patient that I’m concentrating and they tend not to interrupt me. Once the prescription is populated on the refraction screen, the dispense is also automatically populated, meaning that we have very few in-house prescription errors.
The final screen is used for patient recommendations, which we then print out on the general ophthalmic services 2 (GOS2) form. Vouchers are issued, recall is updated and referral letters can be actioned quickly from here. I also have pre-written template options for some of the most common letters that I may give my patients. These cover topics such as headaches, flashers and floaters, hypertension and glaucoma. Having these templates saved means that I just have to make a few quick tweaks and then press print.
As a practitioner, ‘Opticabase Clinical’ has made me more efficient – my record keeping is quick and thorough, which impresses my patients. It has also improved our efficiency as a business, providing us with a proper grip on practice stock control, GOS forms, banking procedures, key performance indicators and the effectiveness of marketing and promotions – the list goes on. Staff no longer spend time filling in forms or filing, in fact our filing cabinet, yes singular, is only half full.
The support offered by Mr Prais and the Opticabase team is superb. Opticabase is designed by an optometrist who understands all the intricate details of day-to-day practice procedures, as well as our responsibilities as clinicians. I really could not live without ‘Opticabase Clinical.’