Collaboration to the mutual benefit of patient eye care is an outcome that all eye care providers (ECP) strive for. This is the mission statement that I cherish when I was asked by Rob to start a dialog amongst ECP and primary care providers to better coordinate better eye care outcomes.
As a investigator and grantee for the past five years, I have studied the issue of improving the access of appropriate eye care to a broad spectrum of patients. Specifically, eye disease is commonly not found soon enough and patients may needlessly suffer loss of vision because of this phenomenon.
There are many players in the maelstrom of eye health care. While the numbers may be plentiful to patients, accessing the appropriate level of care is not so easy. Asymptomatic patients may see the optometrist for spectacles or contact lenses and may discover that they have an eye disease. Or similarly, a visit to a primary care physician may also detect a similar eye problem.
Whether in Canada or in the United States, definitive care may delayed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is a miscommunication amongst providers and sometimes it is the patient who cannot appreciate the severity of their problem and sometimes.
Minimizing sight loss, therefore, may require an elevated sense of cooperation that might not exist today. As in the United States, individual eye care providers may have excellent relationships with one another, but this level of relationship building isn't sufficiently institutionalized or formalized to guarantee that any patient seeing any kind of eye care provider will receive the most appropriate care
Suffice to say, there is a risk writing about this subject. My goal is to overcome the suspicion and skepticism that surrounds cooperation between all eye care and primary care providers in optimizing the eye health of our citizenry. This first post will serve as a my foundation for writing about this subject and will be a pro forma mission statement. In the following installments I will offer models of cooperation, specifically between optometrists and ophthalmologists to answer the deeply held beliefs that may have served to separate rather than join the professions together.