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Australia & New Zealand eye health patient support bodies hold rare meeting

Australia eye health patient support

Specsavers recently hosted an industry-first meeting for eye health patient support bodies across Australia and New Zealand.

Attended by Glaucoma Australia, Glaucoma NZ, Vision Australia, Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA), Diabetes Australia and Specsavers, the event aimed to strengthen relationships and build a more collaborative community of patient-centred eye health professionals and services across Australia and New Zealand.

With some attendees meeting each other for the first time, the event saw participants present information on their organisation, their patient support journey and the successes and challenges they face in delivering day-to-day care.

Dr Kathy Chapman, MDFA.

Dr Kathy Chapman, MDFA CEO, said the day was an ideal opportunity to listen and understand more about what each player in the patient support sector does.

“Thanks to Specsavers for bringing all the eye health organisations together. The open discussion showed where we have similar strengths and where we have different but often complementary offerings available for patients,” she said.

“I came away seeing lots of potential to better collaborate and complement each other’s work, especially because we were able to share similar challenges such as how do we increase referrals so that more people are aware of our valuable services. The more we as eye health organisations and optometrists know about the services out there, the better equipped we are to help people living with eye health issues maintain their sight and improve their quality of life.”

Richard Wylie, Glaucoma Australia.

Mr Richard Wylie, Glaucoma Australia CEO, agreed, stating that all organisations in the eye health sector want better health outcomes for their community.

“Therefore, formalising a time to meet and explore opportunities to collaborate made perfect sense,” he said.

Specsavers ANZ optometry director Dr Ben Ashby said that while many connections were made, the goal of the event was to take the first step in establishing a network where new strategies could be devised to benefit patients and the eye health sector in future.

Dr Ben Ashby, Specsavers.

“As the largest provider of optometric services in both Australia and New Zealand, we see firsthand the impact of patient support bodies in positively engaging with relevant patients outside the testing room,” he said.

“We hold direct relationships with these organisations, so it made sense for us to bring them all together. Our next steps are to hold a follow up workshop before the end of the year, where we will brainstorm and plot out exactly what we could do together that could lead to enhanced health outcomes for more patients.”

Image caption

Back line left to right: Kristy Richards (national marketing services manager, Vision Australia), Amelia Ukovic (chief practitioner and leads service excellence and compliance, Vision Australia), Dr Joseph Paul (head of professional services, Specsavers), Michael Angerame (optometry development consultant, Specsavers), Richard Wylie (CEO, Glaucoma Australia). Amie Ryalls (head of professional communications, Specsavers)

Middle line left to right: Duchesne Markham (senior professional communications and stakeholder manager, Specsavers), Rebecca Sobczak (GM – programs and operations, MDFA), Dr Ben Ashby (optometry director, Specsavers), Gillian Hopkins (online marketing and customer engagement manager, Glaucoma Australia), Pippa Martin (CEO, Glaucoma NZ)

Front line left to right: Dr Kathy Chapman (CEO, MDFA), Jon Kidd (KeepSight program manager, Diabetes Australia), Meera Chandra (healthcare relations manager, MDFA)

More reading

Glaucoma Australia says economic impact of disease could top $4.3 billion

Saving sight will save billions of dollars, MDFA report forecasts

Specsavers surpasses 240,000 glaucoma referrals

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