Demand for effective and efficient health services is driving the evolution of smart design and easy access to data. Long seen as the two greatest challenges for medicine, the COVID-19 pandemic was the impetus for an immediate shift to a way of operating that is connected, efficient and that considers and meets the needs of the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
Telemedicine has emerged as, and remains, a medical buzzword. While its prevalence was necessitated by the challenges to ongoing care brought on by the pandemic, long-term we now know it has the potential to become a central part of the solution addressing the growing demands on eye care specifically and healthcare generally. In a recent webinar hosted by Topcon, Dr Paul Testa, and Dr Karl Mercieca, shared examples from New York and Manchester respectively where existing telehealth systems were scaled up and evolved to help meet the huge spike in demand from patients managing chronic conditions during the first wave of COVID-19 infections. They included examples of fully integrated telemedicine systems, virtual clinics and robotassisted screening, and at-home screening. Both case studies illustrated that achieving clinical practice that is more efficient, safer for everyone, and can respond quickly to the unique care needs of every patient is a realisable goal when a systems level approach is considered and applied – an approach that connects telehealth, AI and robotics with existing healthcare infrastructure, and a system where multi-disciplinary care teams are working collaboratively to the top of their professional scope.
The Harmony data management platform is a great example of how Topcon applies this philosophy…
Now the question is not how do we keep the momentum going, but how do we ensure we keep attention focused on unmet needs in the healthcare space – connecting disparate and disconnected systems, developing products with holistic consideration of the larger ecosystems they serve, and ultimately, enhancing the providerpatient relationship to drive better outcomes for the 1.7 billion people globally who will suffer vision loss by 2050.
Developing products that enhance clinical practice and patient care often means solving bigger problems rather than focusing on a particular device. By leading with open architecture and focusing on the needs of eye care as a whole, it is possible to drive innovation, and to develop products that enhance efficiency and accessibility.
“The Harmony data management platform is a great example of how Topcon applies this philosophy, offering electronic medical record integration and device agnostic connectivity to remove the barriers of branded silos to connectivity, efficiency and better clinical decision making,” said Chris Mather, Director Sales & Service ANZ at Topcon.
While the challenges presented by COVID-19 may have denied global marketing teams the opportunity to roll out their planned strategies with perfect acuity, they have served to embed some of the key underlying themes and structures that the eye care sector needs to build on in order to make sure they are meeting the needs of their patients now, and into the future, to ensure people see their future.
Vicki Paras (BHSc/MOrth) is an orthoptist who works with Topcon in Australia.