The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and Specsavers have signed a non-binding, non-exclusive agreement to work together to improve patient care pathways. The aim is to develop patient pathways that are more efficient, effective and lead to improved eye health outcomes for people across Australia and New Zealand. All optometrists, GPs and ophthalmologists, regardless of affiliation, have been invited to participate in the process.
Asked why RANZCO chose to sign an agreement with Specsavers as opposed to Optometry Australia or any other group of practices, RANZCO advised the decision was made because Specsavers has almost 1,000 optometrists across Australia and New Zealand seeing thousands of patients everyday. Data from these patient interactions will significantly contribute to the task underway.
The unprecedented collaboration for the eye health sector will see RANZCO, with input from both ophthalmologists and optometrists, develop a series of eye care referral guidelines, initially for referral of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with more developed in future if required. The referral guidelines will be made available for use by all ophthalmologists, optometrists and GPs in Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking of the collaboration, RANZCO President, Dr Bradley Horsburgh said, “Ophthalmologists and optometrists, along with GPs, are committed to helping improve people’s vision. We are all part of the eye health care system and it’s important that we deliver that as smoothly and effectively as possible for patients. In addition, with a clear guide for referrals, we can ensure that the increasingly limited funding and resources for healthcare, both public and private, is used in the most efficient manner.”
RANZCO and Specsavers have signed a non-binding, non-exclusive agreement to work together to improve patient care pathways
The referral guidelines are based on peer-reviewed publications about best practice in relation to referrals for symptoms and disease areas. The first of the guidelines, the RANZCO Referral Pathway for Glaucoma Management, was launched in early August and described as more comprehensive and complementary to the recent glaucoma guidelines.
According to RANZCO, the guidelines do not favour, and are not dependent upon, any particular practice referral system or methodology. They simply lay out a suggested referral pathway if certain signs and or symptoms are identified. The aim is to ensure patients receive the best care possible, in the most appropriate timeframe and from the appropriate health care provider.
Broad feedback sought RANZCO is seeking feedback from all ophthalmologists, optometrists and GPs who use the referral guidelines, which will contribute to an assessment of their effectiveness, usability and impact on patient outcomes. As part of this assessment process, Specsavers will run a two-year pilot program to gather metrics and data which will contribute powerful input and feedback that will allow RANZCO – for the first time – to test fully and develop the guidelines.
Resultant data will be shared by Specsavers and RANZCO with optometry, ophthalmology and medical healthcare funding and management bodies to shed greater light on eye health and broader healthcare outputs.
Peter Larsen, Specsavers’ Optometry Director, said, “With a growing and ageing population in both Australia and New Zealand we have a duty to ensure that there is ingrained collaboration between optometry and ophthalmology. It is not enough to say we work together, we actually need to set ourselves specific areas of collaboration and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of that collaboration. This arrangement between Specsavers and RANZCO does just that, the goal being superior patient outcomes.”
RANZCO will provide training sessions on the guidelines during the RANZCO Congress, which will be open to all optometrists and GPs.