Delivering eye care, beyond the primary pandemic setting, with help of the easee eye test was assessed and the date was published earlier this year. A team of undergraduate optometry students, tutor optometrists, and ophthalmologists formed the TeleTriageTeam (TTT) with the aim to tackle the ever-growing waiting lists at an academic ophthalmology department and revolutionalise the delivery of healthcare.
A total of 3658 cases were assessed by the TTT between April 16, 2020, and December 31, 2021. An astounding number of cases were found to be suitable for an alternative to a conventional face-to-face consultation (1789/3658, 48.91%).
Patients were asked to perform the easee online eye test to examine their visual acuity, enabling clinicians to remotely review cases and prioritize the urgency of each individual case. This is a very exciting step in improving efficiency in clinical decision-making by using remotely collected data, without seeing the patient in person.
The study successfully demonstrated that it is possible to reduce approximately half of the planned care while providing continuity of care for the most urgent cases and deferring or canceling consultations judiciously or referring the remaining patients after obtaining a specialist’s consideration.
The TTT has helped mitigate the backlog of waiting lists that had been built during the start of the pandemic. Limited resources were required, and to the best of our knowledge, this telemedicine approach was the first of its kind to actively involve optometry students and remote eye testing in the workflow. Student participation is beneficial for teaching and training, but it can also enable a high turnover without additional staffing and act as a knowledge source for students.
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