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How technology can help to future-proof a wet AMD service

A Moorfields ophthalmic surgeon shared her insight on the power of innovation during an AOP virtual events series for hospital optometrists

person on laptop
Pixabay/Mohamed Hassan

Hospital optometrists heard how technology can be used to optimise wet age-related macular degeneration services during a webinar organised by the AOP in November.

Moorfields Eye Hospital retinal and cataract consultant, Dawn Sim, discussed how home vision tests, home monitoring, virtual imaging clinics, and video consultations can be used to improve intravitreal injection clinic flow and capacity.

Her presentation, delivered on 10 November, was part of a month-long series of virtual events for hospital optometrists and allied professionals.

Professor Sim highlighted that it is important to consider the purpose that innovation is being used for when improving a service, rather than starting with a platform and adapting the workflow to it.

“What do you want as an outcome for this effort? Find the right thing that fits into that,” she emphasised.

“Technology is replaceable but a robust process that integrates this technology into your service will allow you to thrive,” Ms Sim added.

The ophthalmic surgeon shared with attendees that Moorfields Eye Hospital staff saw around 20,000 patients through video consultations between the beginning of the March lockdown and October.

Of these patients, four out of five did not require further face-to-face care.

Video consultations were used to teach AMD patients how to monitor their vision at home, with 243 patients receiving training during the initial UK lockdown.

The home vision testing technology flagged at-risk patients, who were then offered face-to-face appointments.

Online insight: Menicon and No7 share their motivation behind supporting the AOP’s 2020 virtual event series for hospital optometrists

Why was it important for your company to support the AOP virtual hospital optometry event this month?

No7: For many years, No7’s professional services team has provided in-clinic training, however the current COVID-19 situation has stopped that type of communication, so we need utilise every other type of opportunity to stay in contact with hospital and specialist practitioners. The conference cannot go ahead this year, but the Hospital Optometry Annual Conference (HOAC) and its members are an important part of our business, so we are pleased to support the virtual presentations.

Menicon: HOAC has always played a big role in Menicon’s support to the hospital optometry departments up and down the country, as we are able to see and speak to the majority of the heads of departments and their staff to keep them informed about the products and training we are able to provide. Due to COVID-19 this year, we have not had any face-to-face meetings with our lovely customers, nevertheless, having at least a presence in a virtual event will be a benefit to allow the hospital optometry team to see the updates we have.

How does your company plan to support the hospital optometry community in 2021?

No7: 2021 will be an exciting year for specialist lenses at No7, with the launch of our new irregular cornea website. The aim of this is to support practitioners with the challenges of fitting patients who need their lenses to be able to live their lives to the full. The website will initially launch as a training hub with product and skills training videos. Later additions will include a knowledge hub and articles aimed at the hospital optometry community. We would also like to invite hospital optoms to contribute case studies or write a post. Our professional services team of Ian Sexton and Katie Harrop will be available to discuss training needs to help you and your team. And of course, the technical team will remain on hand to help with your fitting queries.

Menicon: In the past we have been supporting the hospital community with ongoing education in virtual and live hands-on fitting sessions, including keeping the teams updated with lenses and fitting criteria. In the current climate we can see that in 2021 these sessions will need to be on a more virtual basis and we have been ramping up our support on that side of things. This includes presentation/trouble shooting, be it live interactive sessions or voice over for practitioners to keep for future use. We will continue to be on hand for any additional training and help with fitting, including a fitting piece of software some hospitals are now utilising that allows them to obtain a simulated fit for patients in order to reduce exposure during chair time.

What are the key health challenges the sector needs to tackle in 2021?

No7: It’s difficult to answer this question without referring to the ongoing COVID pandemic. It is likely to remain the biggest challenge for the sector and we are going to have to live with it for some time to come. Hospital optometrists have already made so many adaptations to their practice to be able to continue providing excellent care and we know this will continue to evolve. If there is something we at No7 can do to make this any easier we would encourage practitioners to get in touch.

Menicon: I believe there is a long way to go yet until we reach any sort of normality and being able to recover all the lost time and patients that were not able to be seen, so I truly believe that continuing to support the hospital clinics, as we have been, needs to be provided on a broader scale.