Have you ever looked back at your high school pictures and wondered who was that person? Whether it was the mullet or those geeky glasses, life is different now. You have changed for better or worse. It is sometimes hard to remember what it was like back then. The same is true for my practice and the advances that technology have brought about in how we care for our patients. Looking back sixteen years ago, my original practice is barely recognizable. Let’s take a look at how technology has changed my practice.
Electronic Medical Records: A few years ago we made the major step to complete paperless exam modules. I now wonder why we did not do this earlier?! We no longer have to find more storage space or spend time filing all of those paper exam records. Prescriptions and exam information can be retrieved at any point in the office. Exam templates and one click makes note taking more efficient.
Optomap Digital Retinal Exam: Although we have had and appreciated our digital fundus camera for many years, we replaced our retinal camera with the new Optomap system in 2011. The Optomap is able to image 80% of the retina compared to 12% with our digital fundus camera and this has made a big improvement to our diagnostic capabilities. With such an enhanced view of the peripheral retina, dilation is not required in many instances and our patients are thanking us for this.
OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography): This is the newest technology we have purchased for our practice and already wouldn’t want to be without it! The OCT is able to provide highly specialized scans of the optic nerve and macula to better diagnose and manage glaucoma, macular degeneration and several other eye diseases. We screen the optic nerve fibre layer on all adults as part of our routine eye examination because the instrument can help pick up glaucoma much earlier than traditional testing. Routine exams for seniors and diabetics also includes a scan that provides an MRI-like cross section of the macula – helping us to see what is happening within the individual layers of the retina or underneath it that may not be visible with our microscope alone. This is part of what we like to call the “Ultimate Eye Examination”.
Social Media: We have created a Facebook “Fan Page” which allows us to interact with our most engaged patients. We run contests, solicit feedback and obtain testimonials using Facebook. It is a fun way to keep in touch with our current patients. Twitter is another way that we interact with our patients in a social way. Twitter allows us to broadcast information about your eyes to a wider audience. One of our staff members sends tweets for our office and I will tweet for myself @drtrevormiranda. We also have a blog that we can send out via twitter and our Facebook page.
Innovative products: The advent of silicone hydrogel materials made soft contact lens wear much safer and healthier than ever before, and has allowed many dry eye patients to enjoy their contacts again. The material is now available in almost every modality, including daily disposable, astigmatism and multifocal designs, so that almost everyone can benefit from this type of contact lens. Free form digital surfacing of spectacle lenses has enabled us to make glasses thinner and clearer to provide better vision. The Varilux S series progressive is a revolutionary new lens design that dramatically reduces the “swim effect” while still widening the field of vision. We have invested in the VisiOffice instrument that we can utilize to provide better fitting of prescription eyewear. It takes individualized fitting measurements that are unique to each patient that allow for better optical performance of your new glasses. We also have better options for prescription sunwear. It is great to be able to say to my patient that with new advances in technology “we can do that now”!
The future is hard to imagine but I know it will be exciting. Remember how big and bulky cell phones were when they first came out? Today they fit in the palm of our hand and we can use them to watch movies and video conference. We will continue to embrace new technology to provide our patients with the best eye care possible.