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Wednesday / June 19.
HomemiequipmentMicheal Knipe: the Ultimate Boy’s Own Adventure

Micheal Knipe: the Ultimate Boy’s Own Adventure

When you work across several privately owned practices, in modern hospital environments and in volunteer clinics set up in developing nations, you get to work with all types of technology and to really understand the difference that effective equipment can make when it comes to delivering efficient eye care.

And so it is for Micheal Knipe, principal optometrist at Total Eyecare, a group of seven practices in Tasmania. Mr. Knipe is also a member of Optometry Giving Sight, he’s actively involved in the East Timor Eye Program and attends the eye clinic at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

While he is a strong believer in technology, he is also discerning about his choices – and pragmatic too.

“It’s nice to have the latest and greatest technology in your practice, but it’s got to be affordable and useful – in other words, it’s got to add value to the care you’re giving – because there’s no point in buying something if it’s just a top that goes ping,” he said.

…those really high end OCTs are more suited to hospital environments…

Before making any equipment purchasing decisions, Mr. Knipe says he consults colleagues, reads journal articles and magazines – like mivision – and talks to resellers. “Resellers that I’ve come to know over the years are a great source of knowledge – they understand my needs and they’re well informed. Despite the fact they represent one brand or another, they’re usually very honest and direct in their advice,” he said.

He said trade fairs are another great source of information. “If I know what I want to buy – if it’s a standard item like a slit lamp, I’ll just place an order. But if I’m not sure what I want, I’ll wait for a trade show and I’ll go along with a number of optometrists from my practice. We will have a look around and do some direct comparisons, then make a decision.

“When we’re looking for equipment that will be used by a number of optometrists in the practice, we look for flexibility and adaptability – this is especially true when we’re looking for motorised tables, chairs and stands.”

“We also make a point of keeping in mind the real clinical needs of the practice because it’s easy to get carried away by all the new features that the latest release of equipment might offer. For instance, when looking at OCTs, it would be nice to buy the machine with all the bells and whistles, but in reality, in private practice, we’d be paying for features that won’t be used.

Those really high end OCTs are more suited to hospital environments. So an OCT with less features, at a lower price point that’s affordable to the practice, but not so low that it doesn’t provide useful patient information is the more sensible option,” said Mr. Knipe.

Changing Practice

He said the proliferation of equipment in recent years has changed the scope of an optometrist’s practice and the way an optometrist’s practice operates.

“These days, existing practices that employ a number of optometrists will often build a separate room if
space permits. Or, if they’re moving into newer practices, like we did – they’ll allocate a second room for equipment.

“So in the Macquarie Street practice where I spend most of my time, we have three consulting rooms and two other rooms which house retinal cameras for anterior eye imaging, visual field testing and so on. That gives us maximum flexibility for managing patient needs – and means we can maximise our professional time.”

He said being able to use the latest equipment is exciting and, although he has plenty of new technology in his practice, there is always room for more.

“Being an optometrist is like living the ultimate boy’s own adventure – there’s always the need for another toy, and in the end, he who dies with the most toys wins,” he laughs.