How digital eye care can enhance the patient experience

21st February 2022

The lack of digital eye care throughout optometry has seen it fall behind other healthcare sectors in terms of the patient experience it delivers. From dentistry to psychiatry, tools such as digital imaging and remote care have been generally utilised with greater volume and success than optometry.

Since society has begun to return to normal in the wake of the world’s response to the Covid pandemic, practices have been battling patient backlog and staff shortages. The issue around staff has been particularly profound in the USA, which has suffered from a lack of qualified staff after many didn’t return to their roles after the height of the crisis.

Because of these hindrances, practices have been understandably reluctant to take the time required to look into adopting more digital tools into their eye care offering. However, the gap to other sectors and the experience patients will have become used to across healthcare will only grow with the longer this continues.

Digital Imaging

More and more patients are becoming familiar with being able to see 3D images of their mouth at a dentist appointment, for example, whereas it’s vastly rarer to come across a digital image when seeing your optometrist, despite the technology existing to do so.

The ability to show patients images of their eye, which can even nowadays be done using smartphones in the absence of a digital slit lamp, is a great way of educating patients – they better understand any issues they have, what their pathology is and what they need to do to improve it. It’s also a great way of building rapport with patients – you can even create a sense of theatre around it!

Remote Eye Care

The same can be said when it comes to remote care. Returning to the example of dentistry, that sector saw a four-times greater share of telehealth of outpatient and office visit claims in February 2021 compared to that of ophthalmology, according to findings by McKinsey & Company last year.

Telehealth was very much the norm over the course of the pandemic, but we all want to make full use of being able to return to the clinic, right? There’s no reason in-person appointments shouldn’t make up the bulk of a practice’s, but an element of remote care goes a long way to enhancing the patient experience.

Whether it’s for work or leisure, doing things on remote platforms has become commonplace. As such, it’s what patients are coming to expect from their eye care. Particularly in the case of contact lens follow-ups, what patient wants to book out a morning just to come into the clinic just to be told everything is fine, “see you in a year”. This is a monumental waste of everyone’s time that could have been avoided by simply having the appointment using a digital eye care platform such as AOS. If an issue does arise that needs further investigation, the patient can then be referred for an in-person visit.

How digital eye care can bring business benefits

Putting the patient experience at the heart of everything we do should be something we’re all making a conscious effort to do. Better education thanks to digital imagery is a great help for patients to understand and adhere to the treatment plan given to them by the eye care professional (ECP), making them more satisfied with their eye care and more likely to stay with you, as well as share their experience with friends and family. Furthermore, at a time when practices are struggling with patient backlog, implementing remote care can help alleviate this long term. Eliminating brief appointments which could’ve taken place remotely, particularly with ECPs having to wipe down all surfaces in between patients, helps save time and make for a much more convenient process for everyone involved.

With a digital eye care platform like Advanced Ophthalmic Systems (AOS), you can empower the professionals in your practice to become a truly patient-centric business, giving them the tools to set yourself apart as a forward-thinking practice with the patient experience at the heart. If you’d like to find out more, please feel free to get in touch with the AOS team.