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OT  focuses on… Remote consultation

As optometrists adapt to the evolving challenges of COVID-19, suppliers have introduced solutions to support social distancing in practice, as well as remote triage


Patient-facing upgrades

Advanced Ophthalmic Systems (a Sparca company) has launched the latest version of its software for practices, AOS 3.0. The new upgrade retains the previous clinical functions deployed in AOS 2.0 as an objective grading software, but introduces new features such as the new web-based platform, allowing the tool to be used on any device.

The launch includes a new patient-facing app designed to enable at-home triage for scenarios such as minor eye conditions, contact lens fitting or dry eye assessment. The tool provides patients with an automatic, downloadable link, and allows them to take images at home and share these with the practitioner.

The upgrade also introduces a telemedicine portal that AOS suggests is unique in that it is designed to keep the practitioner at the centre of interaction, ensuring the right person is being contacted, and that any information shared goes into the right patient file.

“Our premise is enabling practices to see patients that need to be seen in the clinic, and to see the ones who don’t need to be seen in person, virtually,” explained Nathan Little, chief strategy officer for Sparca, suggesting that the solution can “bridge the gap” between the practice and remote service.

eye tool

Expanding Attend Anywhere

The Attend Anywhere video conferencing service has been growing in use across NHS Services in the UK this year. In spring, communication platform specialists, Involve, announced it would be offering a new Attend Anywhere service in the UK – specifically aimed at private healthcare and sectors beyond the NHS.

The partnership has seen a significant increase in queries through the lockdown, with over 75 new health-related enquiries since the start of April and the onboarding of 40 new health organisations. Speaking of the “huge appetite” for the video conferencing tools, particularly within optometry, Mick Roach, director of strategic health alliances at Involve, said: “We have never seen the adoption of technology like this.”

Within optics, the Attend Anywhere by Involve platform offers the ability to embed video consultations to a service’s webpage and see patients in virtual clinics via a video link. Patients enter through the practice website and wait in an online waiting area with no dial-in details needed.

Mr Roach said of the solution: “With a limit to how many patients an optometrist can see per day within a specific geography, along with the travel time and cost for the patient to attend the appointment, it just seemed that the Attend Anywhere service would be a perfect match for the High Street optometry market.

“The value is in its simplicity and intuitiveness, which quite clearly sets it apart from other applications of its kind in the tele-space.”

sight test
NHS Forth Valley

Innovation in resources

This summer Ocuco launched its new Virtual Consult platform to facilitate virtual consultations between an optometrist and a patient. The tool allows an optometrist to assess a patient’s symptoms and offer actionable advice remotely.

The platform eases the safety concerns of patients travelling to the practice during COVID-19 and also allows for remote triaging, the company suggests. Additionally, the remote triaging platform helps to keep in-store footfall within social distancing guidelines. The product is one of several new solutions Ocuco has made available to help practices navigating the pandemic, including a newly-launched product to assist with the rescheduling of appointments, the SMS Proposer.


Livi Connect  

Launched in response to the surge in demand for video consultations due to COVID-19, Livi Connect is a new, free platform to enable health professionals, including optometrists, to hold video consultations with patients. Livi Connect works with existing systems and enables healthcare professionals to send a one-time SMS link to a patient’s mobile phone, providing them access to a fully-encrypted video consultation. The patient does not need to download or set up an account with Livi Connect, which the company suggests makes it a hassle-free solution for both parties.

“We want to make it easy for healthcare professionals to continue with their work remotely, and video consultations are the best way of replicating face-to-face contact,” explained Luke Buhl-Nielsen, Livi’s international expansion vice president. “Livi Connect is particularly beneficial to high-risk groups or those who are self-isolating due to COVID-19. Critically, remote consultations stop the spread of infection whilst ensuring patients can seek the care they need.”

The company told OT that in the next few months, they are working on a more powerful meeting room with a newly-launched booking link for later calls. Livi Connect is also building a tool to allow screen sharing and for users to attach and send documents securely.

LIVI Care Connect