In these unusual times, we have had to find new ways to deliver eye care to patients with a wide range of conditions, without them having to leave their home.
Some people may have thought this would be impossible in ophthalmology, but at Moorfields Eye Hospital we have rolled out an ambitious digital programme to make this a reality, continuing a wider range of clinics than we thought would be possible at this time.
We managed to successfully roll this programme out in just two days after increased lockdown measures were announced. We are now hosting over 600 video appointments a week to ensure patients continue to get the specialist eye care they need whilst being able to stay at home.
Video consultations are available for clinics in the following Moorfields services: A&E, adnexal, urgent eye care, general ophthalmology, genetics, neuro-ophthalmology, paediatric external eye disease, paediatric orthoptics, strabismus, uveitis, ocular oncology, medical retina, anaesthetic pre-assessment, counselling, and pharmacy.
The video consultations run on an easy to use platform which enables patients to see clinicians using their smartphone, computer or tablet, without the need to travel to hospital.
Many patients that typically wouldn’t describe themselves as ‘tech savvy’ have been able to use the platform and have felt comfortable doing so. The platform has a virtual waiting room where a ‘virtual receptionist’ can register the patient on our systems, check that their webcam and microphone are working, and forward them to the correct clinician for their appointment. Typically, patients will be able to see an A&E doctor within a few minutes of logging on to the platform, which is available through the Moorfields website.
Interestingly, almost eight in ten patients who log on to our online A&E have been able to get the treatment they need without travelling into hospital, with almost 95% of patients giving the service they received a maximum rating of five stars.
This has certainly made us think about how we can utilise this service beyond the pandemic and how it could work in other specialities beyond ophthalmology. The results and feedback we see over the next few months will help us to decide how widely we can use this service going forward.