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HomeminewsIndustry-First Patient Support Group Collab

Industry-First Patient Support Group Collab

Representatives from Specsavers, Vision Australia, Glaucoma Australia, Glaucoma New Zealand, Macular Disease Foundation Australia, and Diabetes Australia. Back L–R: Kristy Richards, Amelia Ukovic, Dr Joseph Paul, Michael Angerame, Richard Wylie, and Amie Ryalls. Middle L–R: Duchesne Markham, Rebecca Sobczak, Dr Ben Ashby, Gillian Hopkins, and Pippa Martin. Front L–R: Dr Kathy Chapman, Jon Kidd, and Meera Chandra.

There are promising signs that an industry-first initiative, bringing together patient support bodies from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, will result in strategies that improve patient outcomes.

Leaders from Glaucoma Australia, Glaucoma New Zealand, Vision Australia, Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA), and Diabetes Australia came together for the first time last month at a cross-sector collaborative meeting, hosted by Specsavers.

The aim was to strengthen relationships and build a more collaborative community of patient-centred eye health professionals and services across ANZ.

With some attendees meeting each other for the first time, participants presented information on their organisations, the patient support journeys they currently offer, and the successes and challenges they face in delivering day-to-day care.

Learning From Each Other

Dr Kathy Chapman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MDFA, said the day was a valuable opportunity to listen and understand more about what each player in the patient support sector does.

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

“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 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 CEO agreed. “All organisations in the eye health sector want better health outcomes for their community. Formalising a time to meet and explore opportunities to collaborate made perfect sense,” he said.

Acknowledging the benefits of making new connections for each organisation, Specsavers Optometry Director Dr Ben Ashby said the goal had been to take the first step in establishing a network where new strategies could be collaboratively devised to benefit patients and the eye health sector in the future.

“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.

“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.”