Specsavers has announced the recipients of the Doug Perkins Medal and Dame Mary Perkins Awards for 2023 at the annual Specsavers Clinical Conference (SCC) in Sydney, showcasing its continued focus on outstanding excellence in clinical performance and patient care within the optometry field.
Stores in Beaudesert, Queensland, Salamander Bay, NSW, and Masterton and Hornby from New Zealand were among the recipients for the awards, presented during the two-day conference held 28-29 October.
The Doug Perkins Medal for Clinical Excellence, introduced in 2018, is awarded to one Australian and one New Zealand store each year that consistently upholds the highest standards of clinical excellence. Meanwhile, the Dame Mary Perkins Award for Outstanding Patient care, introduced in 2021, is awarded to one Australian and New Zealand recipient who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to patient care in the last 12 months.
Doug Perkins Medal
This year’s Doug Perkins Medal winners were Specsavers Beaudesert and Specsavers Masterton on New Zealand’s North Island.
Specsavers head of clinical performance, Mr Nick Gidas, who presented the awards, said in determining the winners, the company evaluated practices that consistently delivered exceptional patient outcomes, provided an outstanding patient experience, continually enhanced store processes for quality eyecare, promoted accessible eye health, and fostered a positive workplace culture.
“To select the finalists and winners, we analyse nationwide data collected through our clinical reporting, combining this information with patient feedback and health outcome data,” Gidas said.
“We are delighted to crown Specsavers Beaudesert and Specsavers Masterton with this year’s award in recognition of their exceptional commitment to clinical care throughout the year.”
Dame Mary Perkins Award
The Dame Mary Perkins Award for Outstanding Patient Care celebrates and recognises the impact Specsavers optometrists have on their patients.
The awards were judged by industry professionals, Ms Skye Cappuccio, CEO of Optometry Australia, Ms Carly Iles, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, and Mr John Mulka, the co-chair of Eye Health Aotearoa.
This year’s Dame Mary Perkins Award was presented to two optometrists who demonstrated an exceptional commitment to patient care, going above and beyond to make a positive difference: Ms Laura Hou from Specsavers Salamander Bay and Ms Alice Jackson from Specsavers Hornby.
Cappuccio said the awards are a testament to the values of patient care that Specsavers embodies.
“What an organisation acknowledges and celebrates matters – it sends a message about what they value. Celebrating people and practices who go the extra mile to support their patients, not only motivates those rewarded to maintain their quality of patient care, but encourages, and gives permission, for others to do so too,” she said.
Iles added, “Dame Mary Perkins is well known for providing exceptional patient care, and these traits were the focus of my evaluation for the Dame Mary Perkins Award. We sought individuals who consistently put patients first and go above and beyond to deliver quality patient care and support to the local community.”
Mulka said the Dame Mary Perkins Award continues to highlight the vital role optometrists play in the prevention of avoidable vision loss.
“It was my absolute pleasure to participate in judging this year’s awards. I found each submission very worthy and a difficult task to rate one over the other. I was quite moved by the evident passion and commitment of Specsavers optometrists and the empathy shown in each and every case. It’s a great reminder of the goodness of people,” he said.
Specsavers celebrates key milestones
Specsavers ANZ optometry director Dr Ben Ashby welcomed almost 1,000 delegates at SCC over the weekend, including 300 in-person at the Sofitel in Darling Harbour, Sydney, and 700 online delegates.
Ashby celebrated milestones in Specsavers’ five-year plan to bolster its accessible and affordable eyecare model. He said that decreasing rates of avoidable blindness, increasing detection rates, and improving eyecare accessibility to care for the 10 million Australians and New Zealanders currently not accessing eye care constituted part of the company’s long-term goals.
“We set ourselves the ambitious goal to get to a 95% detection rate of avoidable blindness. And I’m very proud to congratulate all of our optometrists at this three-and-a-half-year mark of our five-year journey to now be at 90% detection range for these conditions,” he said.
Ashby said that an increase in patients at Specsavers stores has resulted in a larger number of referrals to specialist services.
“We have now provided care for 5.2 million people over the last 12 months with an additional one million people now accessing eyecare. Around 500,000 of them are now in vision correction, living better lives with better sight and 70,000 have been referred to ophthalmologists for treatments they wouldn’t have otherwise had,” he said.
Key Specsavers partnerships were also acknowledged, including the KeepSight initiative which is a national eye screening initiative for Australians living with diabetes.
“Specsavers optometrists have now registered over 700,000 visits of theirpatients with diabetes. The reminders being sent out by KeepSight are increasing the return-rate of people with diabetes by 20%,” Ashby said.
“What that means is that over the last year, where our optometrists have found 20,000 cases of advanced diabetic retinopathy that needed treatment by ophthalmologists, 4,000 of those cases would have been missed if it wasn’t for the KeepSight program.”
Finally, Ashby discussed opportunities for Specsavers to elevate its accessible eyecare model. He said that expanding access to eyecare for patients in regional and remote locations is on the Specsavers agenda for next year, which involves solving the maldistribution of optometrists through the utilisation of technological advancements.
“Remote care is for those 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand that can’t get enough optometry cover to service their local communities,” he said.
“We think this is a massive opportunity to improve access to eyecare in places that we can’t currently get optometrists. We’ve been piloting the model for a year already and next year we’re going to be taking it to an even more remote location to really put it through its rigours.”