The patient journey from detection of an eye problem by optometrists to assessment and treatment by ophthalmologists can be streamlined by direct referral from optometrist to hospital eye service (HES). This requires locally agreed guidelines and training and feedback for optometrists to ensure high diagnostic competence. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the quality of the West Suffolk Direct Referral Scheme, one of the first direct referral schemes in the UK to include all ophthalmic sub‐specialties.
Two‐cycle audit of existing practice, including all new patients referred by optometrists and seen at West Suffolk Hospital during a three‐month period in 2003 and a seven‐week period in 2006. Three interventions: direct referral clinics for urgent patients; introduced in 2003; six‐monthly training sessions for optometrists; and regular, prompt feedback via letter about individual consultation outcome. Prospective data collection via proforma in both cycles; additional retrospective data collection in the second cycle. Diagnostic accuracy, perception of urgency and request of subspecialty clinic were evaluated.
The direct referral scheme streamlines the patient journey, and patients with acute problems have fast access to HES. In total, 99 per cent of referrals are appropriate. Diagnostic competence is high (87 per cent), and has improved with tighter communication between HES and optometrists. Agreement is less for referral urgency (75 per cent) and choice of subspecialty clinic (74 per cent).
The West Suffolk Direct Referral Scheme provides an efficient service of high quality. Good communications and continued feedback between community‐ and hospital‐based eye care services improve standards and facilitate efficient use of resources.
Hella Dahlmann‐Noor, A., Gupta, N., Hay, G.R., Cates, C.A., Galloway, G., Jordan, K., Lamb, R.J., Ramsay, A.S. and Vivian, A.J. (2008), "Streamlining the patient journey: The interface between community‐ and hospital‐based eye care", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 185-191. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777270810892593Download as .RIS
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