Global trends in optometry – by Professor Harry Weisinger

Prof Harrison Weisinger, Specsavers’ Melbourne-based Director of Professional Services Advancement, recently shared his insights into current global optometry trends with the attendees of the European Specsavers Clinical Conferences (SCC).

In his presentation, Prof Weisinger outlined three key trends in health, eye care and optics:

• The ‘healthcare crunch’
• Automation leading to the commoditisation of optical services
• AI and machine learning

Prof Harrison Weisinger

He explained that increases in factors such as population growth, life expectancy and the cost of diagnosis and treatment was driving up the overall cost of healthcare, but that due to a dearth of resources and funding, modern health systems would soon be in jeopardy. The ‘healthcare crunch’ is also being experienced in eye care which, though it is important, is also expensive.

Prof. Weisinger noted that the optics sector was rapidly changing, with various optical services potentially soon to be be delegated to automated equipment. He emphasised that in order to remain competitive, optometry would need to continually improve its quality, services and integration with the wider health care community.

The final trend described was developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance healthcare and reduce costs. While online retailers would use this technology to their advantage, Prof Weisinger noted that optometry could also use this to improve its services.

Delegates were told that optometry would need to “adapt or die” as new challenges will inevitably arise from outside of the traditional optical retail and primary eye care market – and how Specsavers was preparing for this by increasing collaboration with general practice and ophthalmology, investing in the professional advancement of its optometrists, and by embracing new technology.

Specsavers Australia and New Zealand’s positive relationship and work with RANZCO, its integration of the Oculo electronic referral platform into its practice management system, and its roll-out of OCTs were provided as examples of how Specsavers was working to transform eye health across all territories.

Prof. Weisinger described this plan as being the “ultimate win-win” as it was better for patients and customers, the health system, the medical sector, and the optometry profession. Prof. Weisinger was among a wide range of international ophthalmologists, academics and other optometry and ophthalmology experts speaking as part of the European SCCs’ optometry streams.

 

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