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Fostering Patient Knowledge

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InVision Eyecare uses technology and a team mentality to keep the focus on patient education

In an ongoing effort to provide excellent patient care in the face of managed care requirements and government mandates for health-care data, InVision Eyecare, in Lakewood, NJ, ensures that patients receive exemplary education and service.

“We want our patients to get a sense of caring and confidence that we know what we’re doing,” explains Edward Hedaya, MD, senior ophthalmologist/owner of InVision Eyecare. “If a patient leaves a practice not understanding his or her diagnosis or the reasoning behind a specific medication or procedure, that patient isn’t going to feel comfortable with us, and he or she is not going to return for our care or refer others who could benefit from our services.”

With a 4.8 out of five stars on Google and many positive reviews from patients, the practice’s effort is definitely paying off.

Here’s a look at InVision Eyecare’s two-pronged approach to patient education.

Technology

To truly involve patients in the diagnosis and care discussion, InVision Eyecare staff uses the latest technology. All of their diagnostic equipment is networked through a server so that images can be accessed and manipulated in each exam lane and doctors can review them with patients, says Vicki Corby, practice administrator. Also, Ms. Corby adds that their current iPad-based EHR system (EMA, Modernizing Medicine) has been instrumental in making the practice efficient. “All of our provider and techs use these devices, delivering the best care possible without taking away face-to-face time with our patients.”

Here are some of the other technologies that aid with patient education.

• “Welcome to the practice” video. This contains the practice’s philosophy, introductions to the doctors, and patient testimonials.

“The video is designed to put patients at ease regarding their care with us,” says Dr. Hedaya. “For new patients, after viewing the video, they don’t feel like any of us are strangers when we meet them face to face, and I think this helps with care as well.”

• Optomap Retinal Exam (Optos). The device provides a 3D view of the retina, sans dilation.

“The technician explains to patients, via script, that the device provides images of the patient’s retina, macula, and optic nerve without any discomfort,” says Dr. Hedaya. “I then link discussions of diagnoses and treatment plans with the images of pathology and track progression. This enables patients to understand what I’m talking about, which gives them a tremendous sense of comfort.”

• OPD Scan-III (Marco). This is comprised of an auto-refractometer, auto-keratometer, pupillometer, pupillographer, topographer and wavefront aberrometer.

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“This technology allows us to show patients how a mild prescription pair of glasses can overcome a particular visual symptom, such as halos, what a patient’s cataracts look like via retroillumination, their mires and more,” Dr. Hedaya says. “Providing this visual information gives patients an extraordinary sense of confidence in us that we understand what they’re experiencing. This means so much to them.”

  • Video slit lamp. “This has been wonderful for patient education, because I can show patients exactly what I’m seeing via a related screen,” Dr. Hedaya explains. “Patients and their family members who join them in the exam room are just fascinated.”
  • iPhone camera attachment (Olloclip) InVision Eyecare physicians also use iPhone attachments, so they can take anterior segment photos and share with patients the extreme close-ups of their lids or lesions when patients question a doctor’s findings. (Incidentally, all the doctors have iPhones to access patient records, should one or more patients place emergency calls or the practice’s server-based EHR temporarily goes down.)
  • Apple TV (Apple). Dr. Hedaya says Apple TV is on all the exam room monitors, so that he and his fellow doctors can magnify iPhone images and show videos to make points about patient diagnosis and treatment options. For example, they can bring up videos from the Olloclip on the big screen to show their patients.
  • Echo video (Rendia, formerly Eyemaginations). This cloud-based service houses a library of educational videos on various eye conditions, such as allergies and refractive errors. It can be accessed and played on an array of digital devices and social media platforms and delivered via email.

“Once I’ve diagnosed a patient, I create a playlist that’s relevant to what I’ve found, and I email it to the patient,” says Dr. Hedaya. “The videos enhance a patient’s understanding of what’s been discussed in the exam room, and I think they also make patients feel their chair time has been extended, which makes them happy.”

Sue Balfe, COE, surgical director, adds that she uses the videos during her consult with patients to, for example, support a specific approach to cataract surgery. “We even have the capability of drawing on the video to further get the patient to understand.”

Other technology at InVision Eyecare includes visual field testing, OCT (Heidelberg Engineering), an IOL Master (Carl Zeiss Meditec), and the Orbscan corneal topographer, all of which aid in obtaining specific diagnoses, says Rebecca Kopliner, COA, clinic manager.

Ongoing staff training

To ensure the six full-time certified techs are well versed in the operation of the practice’s technology, ocular disease, and how to provide exceptional customer service (patient scripting, etc.), they must continuously take online distance learning courses through BSM Consulting.

“The courses are comprised of video and written materials. Staff members go through the syllabus on a particular subject matter and then take a test,” says Ms. Balfe. “Each employee must take a minimum of one course every month. Also, there’s a log of the courses techs have taken and their test scores, so the practice can provide additional education in one or more areas, if needed.”

This additional education occurs every five weeks on a day they call “Fun Friday.” Specifically, InVision Eyecare closes to patients for these staff enhancement days, which are segmented into 90-minute programs to keep the entire staff engaged. Senior staff determines “Fun Friday” topics on the distance learning scores or observations, Ms. Balfe says.

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“On one ‘Fun Friday,’ one of the doctors did a presentation on retinal disease and then passed out a pathology photo,” says Ms. Kopliner, who assigns distance-learning courses. “We played a game in which we had to guess what the pathology showed after the doctors presented the chief complaint and HPI. It was fun, and we all learned more about retina disease, which benefits patients.”

She adds that staff training also occurs in the exam rooms where techs “shadow” doctors as they show patients images of their eyes and discuss diagnosis and management.

Bringing it all together

Patient trust is crucial to a practice, says Dr. Hedaya. And that trust is created, in large part, through patient education. “When patients have a clear understanding of what is being discussed, they feel a tremendous sense of comfort and confidence because they’re able to share in what the doctor is saying. Staff training and technology have enabled us to accomplish this. Yes, it takes a lot of time to develop the infrastructure and implement it, and learn how to use the devices. But, once you become fluent in it, everyone wins.” OP

By: Jennifer Kirby on in News