Pediatrics: Starting Them Young
Starting Them Young
How to implement InfantSEE into your practice
ANDREA P. THAU, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D., D.P.N.A.P., NEW YORK, N.Y.
Incorporating InfantSEE into your practice enables the early identification of vision problems and/or ocular disease and helps build your practice as well as your reputation as an astute eyecare practitioner in your community. (See “InfantSEE Overview,” page 34.) For these reasons, it’s valuable to implement the program into your practice.
Here, I explain the three steps to accomplish this.
1. Register online.
Visit InfantSEE’s website (www.infantsee.org), and register to become an InfantSEE provider by clicking on “Optometrists,” on the site’s homepage. This takes you to a page that requests your American Optometric Association (AOA) six-digit ID number, which can be found on your member ID card, on the AOA News mailing label or by calling the AOA [(800) 365-2219]. If you are not an AOA member, this site allows you to become one so that you may avail yourself to its many resources. By becoming an InfantSEE provider, you agree to see each infant (between six and 12 months of age) who comes into your office at no charge.
The InfantSEE website contains an infant history form, a clinical assessment form and a clinical reporting form. You should submit your examination results through the InfantSEE online reporting portal (http//exam.infantsee.org). InfantSEE staff collect examination results without patient identifiers for statistical analysis of this public health program. This evidence helps determine the incidence of problems in the infant population. The information is divided into three categories determined by the doctor at the time of the examination:
1. No problem.
2. Risk factors present that need following more carefully.
3. A problem that needs addressing right away.
Schedule appointments with infants in the morning when they tend to be most attentive.
2. Review the protocol for an infant examination.
The program’s website contains a video on an InfantSEE examination to enable success.
A successful examination must answer five questions:
▸ Does the history indicate a possible problem?
▸ Can the baby see?
▸ Are the baby’s eyes aligned?
▸ Are the baby’s eyes healthy?
▸ Is intervention necessary?
In addition to the “how to” video, be aware that:
▸ Morning appointments tend to be the most successful.
This is the time of day babies tend to be at their freshest. So, be sure to schedule infants in the morning.
▸ A hungry and wet baby is an uncooperative baby. Therefore, ask the parent that the baby be fed and changed prior to the appointment for a mutually beneficial outcome.
▸ An inattentive parent equals an unhappy baby. To prevent this, instruct the parent to bring the completed infant history form to the examination, so that he/she can give the baby his/her undivided attention.
▸ Infants give you a finite amount of time to examine them. Be prepared to be flexible and adaptable when examining babies and young children. Once they enter the exam room, the clock is ticking on the amount of cooperation you’ll receive from them. You must be prepared to move quickly and without interruption. This requires you make sure all the necessary equipment is within reach and ready to go. Also, be sure to advise your staff not to interrupt you during the exam.
3. Market the service.
Now that your office is prepared to see infants, it’s time to make patients aware that you’re an InfantSEE provider. The three ways to accomplish this:
▸ Use the website’s marketing resources. These include DVDs, brochures and other resources to assist with promotion through local media. Use the provided messaging guidelines to help with media interviews as well as press releases, which can be customized to include your practice name and location.
▸ Ask InfantSEE families whether they are willing to speak with the media about the success of the program. I keep a list of these families, so I can call on them if a media opportunity presents itself.
▸Educate pregnant patients about the program. Say something along the lines of: “Congratulations on your pregnancy. I’d like to offer your baby his/her first eye exam at age six months through the InfantSEE program.” When the patient asks about the program and how it’s possible to perform eye exams on infants, use this reply: “InfantSEE is a no-cost program designed to identify vision problems and ocular disease in babies younger than age one. Vision is a learned skill that develops over time, so I want to ensure no obstacles exist to normal development. I am able to examine infants through objective measurements, which include refractive, binocular and ocular health assessments.”
InfantSEE is a national public health program created in 2005 by the American Optometric Association (AOA) in partnership with the Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care at the request of former President Jimmy Carter. Two of President Carter’s grandchildren had amblyopia that went undiagnosed until grade school. He stated that, if his family did not know about the importance of early, regular eye care, many more families were like his. He challenged the AOA to create a no-cost program that would provide vision assessments to every baby in this country in the first year of life. the program was to be at no cost to remove any perceived barrier that might prevent a parent from bringing their child in for an assessment.
If you do a good job with an infant, his/her parent(s) will bring their other children to see you, and they will tell their friends, family, teachers, etc. Since most children do not have an eye doctor, once you become the trusted referral source, a single patient could yield a significant number of referrals.
It’s all in the execution.
By following the aforementioned tips on implementing InfantSEE in your practice, you’ll ensure healthy eyesight early on while also building your practice. OM
Dr. Thau is an associate clinical professor at the SUNY College of Optometry. She is a trustee of the American Optometric Association and a founder of InfantSEE. She is also the owner of a five-woman group private primary care practice in Manhattan with special emphasis on children’s vision and vision therapy. E-mail her at email@example.com, or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: June 2013, page(s): 33 34