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Engaging with patients using imaging devices

Clinical trainer at Optos, Nils Hansen, explains how practitioners can interact with patients using optomap

24 Dec 2018 by Andrew McClean

What are the main points a practitioner should consider when using imaging devices to engage with patients? 

Your ultra-widefield imaging device is, and should be promoted as, the practice’s unique selling point. The optomap scan should be recommended as an integral part of the eye examination for all patients of all ages. Demonstrating the technology compared to traditional imaging methods is particularly useful for patient engagement. Illustrate the 200-degree view verses the 45-degrees that you can typically see with a fundus camera. Optos supplies informative materials that are a useful tool to show patients too.

I would recommend explaining that ultra-widefield imaging offers a variety of clinical benefits. For example, the scans may show pathology and disease in the far periphery such as some cancers, heart disease, diabetes or stroke. The benefit is not only the immediate findings, but the comparison with scans in the future to monitor the patient’s eye health consistently.

Some practitioners also use the Optos story – optomap ultra-widefield imaging was developed by someone whose child went blind in one eye due to a lack of suitable diagnostic tools at the time. Again, this reinforces why the practitioner invested in this unique imaging technology.

“Emphasise to the patient that you are looking for a healthy retina, not that you are hunting for a problem”

At what stage of the sight test should imaging devices be introduced to patients?

All practice staff need to be able to confidently explain the benefits of the full range of services and exams provided at the practice. We recommend that the optomap exam is promoted upfront. This gives the patient time to consider and research the value of the scan, as well as associated costs. Optos also recommends using the optomap practice video in the waiting area, as it gives a short overview of what ultra-widefield imaging is, the ease and speed of the exam, and the benefits it offers.

How should a practitioner explain its capabilities? 

Emphasise to the patient that you are looking for a healthy retina, not that you are hunting for a problem. Reassure them that your imaging device helps you detect early signs of retinal disease and any early detection potentially means successful treatments can be administered and reduce the risk to their sight and health.

While the scan can be carried out at any point during the appointment, the practitioner should always take the time to explain the images and answer any questions. Explain the different imaging modalities and how they can help monitor and protect the patient’s overall health – different pathologies can be picked up on the colour, choroidal or autofluorescence images. Every practitioner has their own style of explaining the images and we encourage everyone to describe the capabilities in their unique way.

Nils Hansen
Optos’ Nils Hansen

What benefits does explaining this type of technology to patients have?

Using the comparisons, visual aids and the 3D wrap functionality gets the patient on board with the technology and any extra fee they might have to pay for it. We hear time and time again the 3D wrap animation creates a genuine ‘wow-effect’. 
 
An excellent example of being able to educate patients is in cases of diabetic retinopathy. Practitioners can help patients to become more actively involved in their own care by showing them clear examples in the image where disease progression is evident. Patients really appreciate being shown something rather than just being told.

Explaining the ultra-widefield view compared to what other imaging devices capture helps the patient understand the commitment of the practice to provide the highest standard of eye care and that this unique technology is are not available everywhere.

How does presenting the images to patients help with interaction?

Whether it’s a clear scan or pathology found, explaining the images is beneficial to patient education, engagement and building long term patient trust. Seeing their own retinal image helps the patient understand why treatment or a referral might be required. Email the images to the patient, who can show friends and family on their mobile phones and become your best advocates.   

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