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I could not live without…

Practice management software

Optometrist and founder of Ocushield, Dhruvin Patel, discusses the importance of practice management software in allowing him to be efficient and effective when testing eyes

Hands on laptop
Getty/Adene Sanchez

As technology has evolved, so have the demands on us as optometrists and healthcare professionals. Something that usually goes unnoticed by many practitioners is how seamless some key technologies are in our day-to-day lives of testing eyes. These technologies are important as they effectively form the foundations for our consultations, allowing us to work efficiently and in a timely manner.

Practice management software

I’m talking about software, practice management software to be exact, which is used in many optical practices to support the optometrist when taking patient details, their history and symptoms, and appointment scheduling, among many other things.

Whether it’s Acuitus, Optisoft or something else, practice management software allows us to work efficiently and provide the best service for patients. And let’s face it, no one, especially myself, wants to be spending precious time sieving through a patient’s previous records only to find you can’t read the previous practitioner’s handwriting and ending up back where you started. It’s also not the best for the patient, who we have sworn to do our best by.

These technologies are important as they effectively form the foundations for our consultations, allowing us to work efficiently and in a timely manner

 

Nowadays, most practice management software systems integrate with a practice’s funduscopy machine and optical coherence tomography, allowing imaging to be linked to a patient’s record. Comparing an image of the optic nerve and macula, and being able to compare like-for-like images at every appointment with ease, is so satisfying. It reassures me knowing, for example, that when I’m conducting an eye examination on a patient and I notice a naevus, which is awfully close to the optic nerve, image comparisons can allow me to see that it has been there for 10 years and has not changed on this visit. Rather than going into referral mode, I know that I am able to manage it in-house with the right protocols. This again makes the experience for both practitioner and patient a whole lot better.

Furthermore, simply having my diary organised for the day through practice management software is very important. This software enables me to focus purely on the patient at hand and make the best decisions possible as my timetable and the associated data for each appointment is presented clearly in front of me. You don’t need to speak to optical assistants before each appointment to get the lowdown on a patient as it’s already available through the software. Plus, you can see if your diary has been amended or if someone is running late and can spend those extra few minutes with your current patient if needed.

Practice management software allows us to work efficiently and provide the best service for patients

 

Handing over responsibility

Practice management software is also really important for locum optometrists, resident optometrists leaving a practice and when selling a practice because whoever is going to pick up the testing responsibility has to be able to interpret your past patient recordings. Handovers are really important when it comes to any employees’ responsibilities, and I strongly believe patient records and data forms part of this. Therefore, clear records and data inputted through practice management software really helps processes like these, especially when I go into a new practice as a locum optometrist.

The future

Will the profession get to a centralised system in the future in the UK where all optical records can be retrieved just like GP records can? Who knows, but I’m all for it – we would see a lot more patient satisfaction and spend less time on admin chasing up historic patient details, which could be as simple as what contact lens was worn, as most of the time patients cannot recall themselves.

Dhruvin Patel is an optometrist and founder of Ocushield, a company that produces medically rated screen protectors that filter out blue light. 

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