An innovative new approach to eye care will roll out at Flinders to reduce waiting times and deliver appropriate and timely care for patients with a range of conditions.
The new model of care developed by Flinders University and the SA Health Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) aims to address high demand for ophthalmology services at the Flinders Medical Centre and southern suburbs.
People with eye health conditions that do not require specialist hospital-based treatment will be monitored and managed by fully qualified optometrists at Flinders Health2Go, a clinic run by Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
The new service has been developed in partnership with Flinders University, SALHN Ophthalmology and SALHN Outpatient Redesign and will be rolled out from May 2023.
SALHN Acting Head of Ophthalmology Unit, Flinders University academic Dr Stewart Lake, says the model of care will allow for the “best possible use of clinical resources so that more people receive the best care according to what their condition is and the level of care they need”.
“We know the waiting list for ophthalmology services includes people with a range of conditions with varying levels of complexity, and this collaborative eye care project will ensure that each person gets appropriate care sooner,” Dr Lake says.
“The new service embeds specialist optometry services into the SALHN ophthalmology practice for the management of stable chronic eye conditions, freeing up specialist clinicians for appointments with
people who have more complex eye disease.”
Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor Jamie Craig, Flinders University Director of the Flinders Centre for Ophthalmology, Eye and Vision Research, says: “We are seeking to provide the most efficient utilisation of available skills and services to enable the growing number of new patients with eye disease to be able to access specialist care as soon as possible.
“The current initiative will provide a clear framework for a collaborative care model where protocols are in place for the monitoring of patients needing care for chronic conditions such as diabetic eye reviews, lower grades of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma suspects.”
Jacqueline Warren, Senior Lecturer in Optometry at Flinders University and co-author of the new model of care model, says the project aims to see an improvement in timely access to care for patients in the southern Adelaide region.
“We have ensured that extensive management protocols have been developed to guarantee all patients will receive appropriate care for their eye health conditions at our state-of-the-art Health2Go clinic.
“We also look forward to aligning with some of the world-leading ophthalmology and optometry researchers at Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre to ensure long-term improvement in
patient care,” she says.
Health2Go offers a range of professional health services, incorporating supervised student education into management of patients.
Those with more complex conditions who require specialist, hospital-based care will still be seen at the SALHN Ophthalmology service.
The new Flinders Health2Go service will have the capacity to review 24 patients a week for conditions such as stable glaucoma and diabetes, freeing up more than 700 extra appointments within the SALHN Ophthalmology Service this year.
The Health2Go clinic has high-level technology for scans, such as optical coherence tomography and fundus imaging using artificial intelligence, similar to those available at SALHN’s Ophthalmology service.
SALHN ophthalmologists will triage patients with clear guidelines and disease protocols in place to ensure consistent management of eye conditions.
Patients can be referred to SALHN Ophthalmology for reassessment if their condition later progresses beyond the clinical capability of the Health2Go clinic, providing a direct pathway back to Flinders Medical Centre.