Michael O’Kane on his Nidek OCT

Optometrist and store director of Specsavers Morningside, Michael O’Kane, shares insight into the business and patient benefits that having an OCT has brought

I had a Nidek Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Retina Scan Duo device installed at my practice in August 2017.

As store director, I decided that it was the right time to invest in the device because I wanted to ensure that I was able to provide my patients with the best possible level of care. I wanted to be able to better monitor eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration as they progress, and, perhaps most importantly, intervene a little bit sooner if needed as well as offering a broader range of services. OCT enables me to do this as I can see conditions develop in the lower layers of the retina earlier than they would be detected by other methods.  

Selecting the right tool for the practice

Specsavers recommends two OCT suppliers – Nidek and Heidelberg Engineering.

Prior to purchasing my OCT device, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to try both of these devices and eventually opted for the Nidek OCT Retina Scan Duo because of the fundus camera integration that it offers – I already had a Nidek fundus camera in practice and this OCT enabled me to integrate the databases of both tools.

The lighter footprint and user-friendliness of the machine also helped in my decision-making process.

‘It’s not just enough to have an OCT, you have to engage and involve the patient in what you are doing and why and what information that provides’

Staff

The delivery of the OCT device coincided with renovations to my practice, during which the diagnostic area was redesigned and a third testing room was added. Because I wanted to make sure that the appropriate patients have the opportunity to access the technology and have an OCT scan, I opted for the device to be housed in the diagnostic area, with support staff responsible for taking the images.

After extensive training, staff got used to operating the device very quickly. One button does a glaucoma test, it scans the disc and takes a photo too. In fact, it is a wee bit easier than the old camera that we had because you had to focus it, whereas this OCT auto-focuses and auto-aligns –they truly love it.

I believe that working with the latest technology including OCT has helped with staff retention too because they know that they are working in a practice that has the latest equipment and that they are offering patients access to cutting-edge services.

I have found patients to be equally astounded by the capabilities of OCT. They are amazed that I can show them the layers of the back of the eye in 3D. I can also demonstrate to them that this is not just a photo, it is data and I can run an analysis to see if a part of the eye has changed over a period of time. This allows us to further educate them on the importance of eye care and regular examinations.

‘I believe that it is important for clinicians to use OCT as another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I use it to corroborate and complement my clinical decision-making’

Business benefits

One of the biggest business benefits that having an OCT has offered is being able to make sure that my patients are getting the best possible care. My patients know that the eye exam is the most thorough it can be.

It’s not just enough to have an OCT; you have to engage and involve the patient in what you are doing and why and what information that provides.

Onward word-of-mouth recommendation has also been positive and we receive a lot of customer referrals in as a result.

I believe that it is important for clinicians to use OCT as another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I use it to corroborate and complement my clinical decision-making. There are times when it proves invaluable, which grows as I gain a baseline of knowledge. I might look at a fundus photo and it is fine, then I look at an OCT and say “Oh my goodness, I need to investigate that further”.

This article first appeared in Optometry Today

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