A study conducted at a prominent research university has found patient visits were 28 minutes shorter on average after systemic changes to its workflow, including the implementation of decentralised optomap imaging.
The company behind the technology, Optos, recently released the findings as part of a clinical summary. It was based on new research out of Stanford University in the US that sought to reduce visit times for retina patients in an affiliated academic ophthalmology department.
In an article published in Retina, the researchers identified photography as a major bottleneck in patient movement and clinic efficiency.
To address this, it trained ophthalmic technicians to perform optomap imaging in addition to OCT. It also better aligned staff and doctor schedules.
To support the new workflow, the clinic also procured three additional Optos widefield retinal photography units, taking its total number to four. It aimed to decentralise usage by moving devices outside of the photography suite to be adjacent with exam rooms. Ophthalmic technicians were trained to perform optomap imaging in exam lanes, bypassing the need for patients to go to the photography suite.
According to the study, prior to these changes, the average patient visit duration was 87 minutes. Four weeks after, this was reduced to 58.5, a reduction of 28.5 minutes or 33%.
From a financial perspective, the clinic reached a breakeven point on each Optos device after one year, using the instrument at least eight times per workday, which was readily exceed by its high-volume retina practice.
The authors also noted other benefits including, increased patient satisfaction scores, less downtime for patients and fewer staff handoffs, and minimised patient movement throughout the clinic.
“This study has shown that improving clinic efficiency can be accomplished by reducing bottlenecks in clinic workflow,” the authors said.
“Reallocation of resources, including reorganising equipment and training clinic personnel for new responsibilities, is a more cost-effective solution than only focusing on capital purchases or hiring additional personnel.”
The authors also noted that the relative ease of implementation and the program benefits show similar changes can be applied to other clinics, with similar results expected.
According to Optos, a previous study in 2017 in US Ophthalmic Review found similar results. In the first year after integrating ultra-widefield (UWF) retinal imaging, the authors said 220 more patients were seen, an increase of 4.4% over the pre-UWF period, which was an average of 1.5 additional patient encounters per day.