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Experiences with developing and implementing a virtual clinic for glaucoma care in an NHS setting

Authors Kotecha A, Baldwin A, Brookes J, Foster P

Received 15 July 2015

Accepted for publication 4 August 2015

Published 15 October 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 1915—1923

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S92409

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cem Ozgonul

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Aachal Kotecha,1,2 Alex Baldwin,1 John Brookes,1 Paul J Foster1,2

1Glaucoma Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital National Health Service Foundation Trust, 2NIHR BRC, Moorfields Eye Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, London, UK

Background: This article describes the development of a virtual glaucoma clinic, whereby technicians collect information for remote review by a consultant specialist.
Design and Methods: This was a hospital-based service evaluation study. Patients suitable for the stable monitoring service (SMS) were low-risk patients with “suspect”, “early”-to-“moderate” glaucoma who were deemed stable by their consultant care team. Three technicians and one health care assistant ran the service. Patients underwent tests in a streamlined manner in a dedicated clinical facility, with virtual review of data by a consultant specialist through an electronic patient record.
Main outcome measure: Feasibility of developing a novel service within a UK National Health Service setting and improvement of patient journey time within the service were studied.
Results: Challenges to implementation of virtual clinic include staffing issues and use of information technology. Patient journey time within the SMS averaged 51 minutes, compared with 92 minutes in the glaucoma outpatient department. Patient satisfaction with the new service was high.
Conclusion: Implementing innovation into existing services of the National Health Service is challenging. However, the virtual clinic showed an improved patient journey time compared with that experienced within the general glaucoma outpatient department. There exists a discrepancy between patient management decisions of reviewers, suggesting that some may be more risk averse than others when managing patients seen within this model. Future work will assess the ability to detect progression of disease in this model compared with the general outpatient model of care.

Keywords: glaucoma, virtual clinic, implementation, service delivery

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