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“We’re helping the patient, and we’re helping the optometrist”

OT  caught up Dr Meera Radia, an ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, to find out how her newly created app connects optometrists with ophthalmologists for GDPR-secure referrals

Tapping smartphone
Pixabay/Steve Buissinne

Moorfields Eye Hospital ophthalmologist, Dr Meera Radia, has explained how her new clinical app is connecting optometrists and ophthalmologists for better referrals and more reliable clinical advice.

Radia is co-founder of PocketEye, which launched in the UK in August 2022.

The app aims to connect primary and secondary eye care, providing instant clinical advice and guidance and answering questions including whether the patient should be referred to the hospital, or whether they should be sent home with advice to follow.

PocketEye is GDPR secure, meaning it provides a safe and confidential solution that unregulated WhatsApp groups cannot, Radia said: “Optometrists can send us images, and we can instantly reply and give advice.”

She believes that unregulated WhatsApp groups where potentially sensitive patient data is stored “create a big problem for patient safety.”

It was after she started being added to these groups, around five years ago, that the idea for PocketEye, which she calls “a platform that can do this securely for patients,” started to form.

At the same time, she realised that many patients presenting at A&E with eye health issues could actually have been treated in the community.

“I was working in a busy London eye casualty, and we were seeing 300 patients a day sometimes,” Radia told OT. “Of those 300, at least half did not actually need to come in.

“I realised that, if the optometrist had access to us digitally so we could review their scans remotely, we would have prevented that patient from making a trip and having to wait five hours in A&E. That’s how I came up with the idea.”

The app, which is currently in its pilot phase, is supported by NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, Innovate UK, and Digital Health London.

It was co-designed with patient groups, as well as optometrists and ophthalmologists, and was in the planning stages for just under a year.

Around 400 UK optometrists have expressed interest in the platform, Radia said. Just over 100 have been granted access during the pilot phase.

An overwhelming proportion of optometrists who have already used the app (90%–95%) said that they would use it again and that it saved them clinical time, Radia noted.

“They save on average 15 minutes per patient for each referral that they send through our platform, because they don’t have to hang on for advice,” she said.

PocketEye will remain free throughout its pilot phase. A monthly subscription, based on whether it is to be used by an individual optometrist or a practice, will be implemented at a later date.

She is also in discussion with locum agencies about how PocketEye can support this part of the workforce.

“We realised through our pilot that we can save the NHS a lot of money, and save the patient hours of waiting in an A&E waiting room,” Radia explained.
She added: “We’re helping the NHS, we’re helping the patient, and we’re helping the optometrist.”

There is “a real lack of feedback from ophthalmologist to optometrist on what the clinical diagnosis is,” Radia said. She hopes that PocketEye will provide a solution to this issue.

Radia also plans to launch a continuing professional development offering through the app, so that it can build on its use as an education platform.

Find out more about PocketEye on its website, or get in touch via email.