Optometrists in driving seat for primary care role

Hemel Hempstead, UK –
Optometrists are in the driving seat for a major role in primary care, with the emergence of autonomous General Practitioner Federations across the country.

Due to come into effect in April 2016, the new regime for GP commissioning presents the greatest opportunity for optometrists seen in decades, believes the Heidelberg Engineering Academy. By providing support services beyond clinical education, such as marketing, financial and patient journey planning advice the Academy offers the best means of integrating OCT into the practice.

Rachel Helm, Director of Hum UK, which supports the Heidelberg Engineering Academy as a business partner, is an expert at integrating services into the NHS and has extensive experience in providing primary care services across many specialties.

“Commissioning is moving to health outcomes and it is really going to pay dividends for providers to show that they can offer this service. There is a massive opportunity for optometrists to integrate clinical pathways, particularly for the provision of glaucoma and AMD care,” she said.

GP Federations will be comprised of up to 60,000 patients, with smaller commissioning groups being formed too. GPs are looking to focus on preventative care and with provision being closer to home for patients. Optometrists are in the driving seat to do this but there is a route to take: it is essential to look at what is required locally. So much can be done with OCT technology and taking a multi-modality imaging approach to accurate diagnosis and referrals, along with tackling chronic disease control.

“High quality management and infrastructure support is critical. GPs are currently being urged by the RCGP to ‘ensure the momentum and buy-in to the change process, identifying key stakeholders and to ensure that they are involved – to use the team as agents of change’ – it is an unrivalled opportunity for the profession.”

Capitalising on changing the NHS landscape, with a significant number of services coming out of the hospital setting, is a major opportunity for those who are well versed in OCT and multi-modality imaging. Routine and planned care, plus diagnostics, provided as primary care in collaboration with local hospitals, is the future for optometry believes Heidelberg Engineering, which has invested in its Academy to support practitioners at every level of their journey.

“For effective engagement your staff need to understand the clinical model. It is important to have a stakeholder plan and to invite primary care into the practice, and form alliances with GPs. It is no wonder that so many hospitals are using the SPECTRALIS, due to its unique tracking function,” added Rachel.

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