The extensive use of information and communication technologies (ICT) has enabled the healthcare sector to adopt digital transformation and improve access to primary care.
A prime example is the UK’s National Health Services (NHS), which offers digital GP services that allow the public to book appointments, order prescriptions, and view health records online. To promote digital inclusion, the NHS also launched an educational campaign that guides people on how to manage their care through the institution’s dedicated mobile platform.
While this demonstrates progress in healthcare equity, there are still gaps specific to optical services. In Wales, for example, the latest report reveals that about 75,000 residents with eye conditions like glaucoma are at greater risk of losing vision due to long waiting times. Despite the Welsh government opening new community clinics, there is also a shortage of eye specialists that hinders priority treatment for at-risk individuals. However, these access barriers can be addressed by expanding the coverage of online optical services like eye exams, prescription eyewear, and remote consultations.
Eye exams via refractive technology
Eye exams are crucial to early detection and intervention for a range of eye conditions, from refractive errors to glaucoma and cataract formation. Thus, Glasgow-based firm IbisVision launched a digital health platform where optometrists can run standard eye tests online using refractive technology.
This remote technology increases access to eye care since patients can schedule and attend their appointments anytime and anywhere, even if no specialists are available nearby. On the optometrists’ end, they can increase their capacity to see more patients and use their working hours more efficiently. IbisVision’s telemedicine platform also enables optometrists to conduct entire optical prescriptions remotely.
Prescription eyewear ordered online
Besides getting routine eye exams, patients can order eyewear online to reduce waiting times and ensure the availability of their prescription lenses and desired frames. As long as they have an updated copy of their prescription, individuals can purchase prescription glasses on Oakley’s website in their preferred frame styles like Holbrook and with protective lens features like anti-glare and anti-reflective coating.
Beyond ease of convenience, the eyewear brand’s online offerings also enhance access in terms of cost savings since it accepts most vision insurance plans. Meanwhile, those who prefer contact lenses can also get them online from optical retailers like Vision Direct and Specsavers.
Remote consultations for urgent care and monitoring
Eye care also covers critical care for cases like flashes, floaters, sudden vision loss, and eye injuries. In this light, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust launched two remote clinic models through the Attend Anywhere telehealth platform, mainly for drop-in and scheduled, invitation-only video consultations.
Moorfields is one of the largest providers of ophthalmology services in Europe, and this endeavour enables patients to receive quality urgent care from home without needing to attend the hospital. Based on a recent report, the remote consultation service was able to help about 78.6% of patients avoid a hospital or primary care visit. Additionally, the service manages follow-up appointments for care continuity and patient monitoring.
Overall, online optical services provide UK residents with timely, relevant, and convenient access to comprehensive eye care. Nonetheless, health providers and governments must continue raising awareness of these services so that more people can utilise them and access barriers can significantly be addressed over time. Stay tuned to Warrington Worldwide for more health news and updates.