One of the themes that runs through the articles in this month’s “Practicing Medical Optometry” (PMO) series, which focuses on AMD, is how to develop processes for patient education. It’s a theme worth investigating. An educated patient is more likely to be satisfied, leave high net promoter scores, refer friends and experience better health outcomes. In addition, research tells us that improving education can reduce the risk of malpractice lawsuits.
A barrier to education is the “data overload” that patients can experience from the “plethora of data available online,” explains Kenneth Lawson, O.D., in “The AMD Patient Experience” (p.28). Dr. Lawson details the solution to this overload, which centers on the optometrist. “Our ability as O.D.s and as educators is the key to patient success,” he notes.
DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND REFERRAL
In “Explain Diagnostic Devices” (p.21), Laurie Sorrenson, O.D., F.A.A.O., writes that patients who understand testing are more invested in their care. Education about diagnostic technology can also impress patients, “increasing the likelihood they’ll refer friends and family,” she says. Dr. Sorrenson offers scripts to streamline education about the variety of devices that aid in the diagnosis of AMD.
When prescribing and dispensing macular carotenoid supplements to patients in-office, Harvey P. Hanlen, O.D., F.A.A.O., notes the importance of explaining “the treatment options we prefer and why,” which is based on risk factors and clinical findings. In his article, “Support Eye Health” (p.25), Dr. Hanlen also provides advice on how to educate patients on the benefits of in-office dispensing.
“Patient education is the key factor in referral process,” writes Katie Gilbert-Spear, O.D., J.D., M.P.H., in “Create a Referral Process” (p.30). Dr. Spear details why patients must understand the importance of the referral and the risk of not following through with the referral. She also provides guidance on how to document the referral, which can help the patient and protect the doctor against possible lawsuits.
A GROWING OPPORTUNITY
Looking to the future, AMD education will continue to play a growing role in patient care, write Drs. Ross Osnes and Burt Dubow in their introduction to the PMO section (see “Actively Identify AMD,” p.19). They note, “As the population continues to age, more people will be at risk for developing AMD, requiring us to have even more conversations with patients.” OM