Eye To The Future – Technology Delivers Quicker Patient Treatment

The use of technology is delivering quicker treatment for NHS Forth Valley patients who present with eye problems following an injury or accident. It involves using a bespoke combination of a slit lamp aligned with a tablet computer which enables a consultant ophthalmologist to view the magnified eye remotely and advise on the best way forward. The treating doctor or nurse and the patient can also join in the discussion whilst the images are being reviewed.

The new system replaces the previous assessment process which sometimes involved a phone conversation between local clinical staff and an ophthalmologist. In the past, many patients presenting with eye problems or injuries were also referred to an ophthalmology clinic for follow up appointments. Now the live video feed means many patients no longer have to travel to the Ophthalmology Department at Falkirk Community Hospital for review, emergency cases are identified earlier, theatre teams can be mobilised more speedily and treatment can normally start immediately.

The new service is being provided in the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and in the Minor Injuries Unit at the Stirling Health and Care Village. To date it has been running as a trial and according to NHS Forth Valley Consultant Ophthalmologist, Iain Livingstone, feedback has been very positive. He said: “Early results show high levels of acceptability from both patients and clinicians. Around 50% of video-enabled consultations have resulted in either same day discharge from the Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit or prevented the need for a follow up review at the Ophthalmology Department in Falkirk Community Hospital. This not only reduces the need for patients to attend additional appointments but has also helped free up capacity and reduce waiting times.”

The work carried out in NHS Forth Valley, a collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of Strathclyde,  is to feature at an Emergency Teleophthalmology conference in Glasgow on 30th April 2019. The event will provide the opportunity to hear from staff involved in making this service possible and to see a live demonstration of telemedicine in action.

For further information and to register for the event – https://www.engage.strath.ac.uk/event/689