Thursday, March 4, 2010

Integrated eye care model can help with possible shortage of ophthalmologists

Richard L. Lindstrom, MD says, "Integrated eye care model can help with possible shortage of ophthalmologists."

and then goes on to say that to solve this ophthalmology shortage we need to "... hire care extenders to help in the office. The certified ophthalmic assistant, ophthalmic technician and ophthalmic medical technologist immediately come to mind. In our practice every ophthalmologist in the clinic is supported by three or four of these valuable employees, allowing us to see eight to 12 patients an hour rather than four to six."

Of course, the primary eye care provider to all of the United States is the Optometrist and not the ophthalmologist....he goes on to state: "the obvious answer, to me, is to engage our optometric colleagues in a care delivery model that is collegial, collaborative, professionally fulfilling and very efficient in providing a large volume of quality care. I have termed this approach the Ophthalmologist Lead Integrated Eyecare Delivery model, or OLIED model of eye care..."

Ophthalmologist lead? When does the "specialist" lead anything in medicine? It is usually the primary care practitioner that leads. He/she does the basic workup and only then does the specialist come into play if needed. This is the cost effective way medicine works in all other areas.

There is no shortage of ophthalmologists (OMDs). If anything there are too many OMDs for the amount of eye disease in the current population.

Optometrists diagnose and treat glaucoma, dry eye, conjuntivitis, and many other anterior segment eye diseases. We diagnose and treat a wide range of refractive disorders. We diagnose and treat binocular vision problems and learning related vision problems.

We don't need more ophthalmologists. We certainly don't need them leading any "team", when such a team should be lead by primary eye care doctors (optometrists). So Dr. Lindstrom...your ideas may indeed have merit...but your organizational chart needs improving....Also...if you think your patients want you to cram in 12 patients an hour instead of 6....well, let's see...do patients want to spend a little more time with the doc or a lot less? Some docs hardly listen to their patients now...you did say something about "quality" eye care right? DM

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