Allied health led clinic reduces wait times for patients

Cataract surgery patients at the Eye and Ear can now have reduced wait times and streamlined follow up appointments thanks to a new clinic led by allied health professionals.

At the new 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 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.

Orthoptists are allied health professionals who are involved in assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders.

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.

Patient Mrs Van Poulios had cataract surgery earlier this year and attended the orthoptic led clinic for her follow up appointment. She says the appointment ran smoothly, she didn’t wait long and healing is going well.

“I can see better, read small letters and even see the computer,” Mrs Poulios said.

Since the clinic started, there have been over 300 eligible patients that have been seen and treated in the new clinic, and over 150 have been discharged by orthoptists.

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.”

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures undertaken at the Eye and Ear, with around 7400 performed each year. It is a timely reminder to check your vision as today is World Sight Day, around 90% of blindness and vision impairment is preventable or treatable if detected early enough.

There is potential for the clinic to expand which will increase the number of patients who will benefit from this new clinic. This clinic received funding from the Department of Health as part the Specialist Clinics Access Improvement Partnership program.