Wait times have been reduced and follow up appointments streamlined for cataract surgery patients at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital thanks to a new clinic led by allied health professionals.
Six orthoptists… have undergone specialised training which included shadowing ophthalmologists during post-operative appointments, to be able to carry out follow up appointments after surgery to check post-operative healing
At the clinic, selected suitable patients are seen by upskilled orthoptists for their follow up appointment after surgery, rather than an ophthalmologist. If there are no clinical concerns, then the orthoptist is responsible for discharging the patient and communicating with their GP about any follow up care.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures undertaken at the Eye and Ear, with around 7,400 performed each year. Patients have a follow up appointment the day after surgery and a further follow up at the hospital around three weeks later.
Previously patients could see several practitioners – ophthalmologist, medical photographer, orthoptist – as part of one appointment. Under the new model, the orthoptist manages the patient for the entire appointment.
Six orthoptists – allied health professionals involved in assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders – have undergone specialised training which included shadowing ophthalmologists during post-operative appointments, to be able to carry out follow up appointments after surgery to check post-operative healing.
The clinic, which received funding from the Department of Health as part the Specialist Clinics Access Improvement Partnership program, has seen and treated over 300 eligible patients since opening and over 150 have been discharged by orthoptists. With potential to expand, the number of patients who will benefit from this new clinic will increase.
Speaking of her experience, cataract patient Mrs Van Poulios said her appointment with orthoptist Debra Gleeson ran smoothly, she didn’t wait long and healing is going well.
“I can see better, read small letters and even see the computer,” said Mrs Poulios (pictured with Ms Gleeson).
The Eye and Ear Hospital cares for around 220,000 patients a year and integrates clinical care, research and education to optimise innovation and provide advanced treatments for vision and hearing loss. The Eye and Ear’s CEO Brendon Gardner said, “This is a new and exciting initiative and we are sure it will make a difference for our patients”.