Integrated eye-care symposium: bringing the Os into a practice

A symposium on integrated eye care highlighted the system in use from three points of view: a small practice, a large practice, and an academic setting. Some common strategies among the practices were effective communication, defined roles, and a focus on the patient.

A symposium on integrated eye care highlighted the system in use from three points of view: a small practice, a large practice, and an academic setting. Some common strategies among the practices were effective communication, defined roles, and a focus on the patient.

Steve Lane, MD, moderator, Associated Eye Care, St. Paul, MN, posed the question: "How are we going to take care of our patients in the years to come with a decreasing number of ophthalmologists and an increasing number of patients?

"In order to do that effectively and efficiently, many of us have adopted the use of integration in our practice," he continued.

Dr. Lane then introduced Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, who talked about integrating the "Os" - optometry, opticians, ophthalmic administrators, ophthalmologists - to come up with a cohesive group that can see patients efficiently and effectively and deliver high levels of care.

Dr. Lindstrom, former president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and founder and attending surgeon, Minnesota Eye Consultants, Minneapolis, gave an overview of what should be expected in this area in the future. Trends show that there are larger numbers of older ophthalmologists than younger ophthalmologists, with 3% to 4% of ophthalmologists retiring every year, according to Dr. Lindstrom. That means 550 to 600 ophthalmologists retire every year while 450 new ophthalmologists are trained each year. That results in an annual net loss of 100 to 150 ophthalmologists.

In the academic setting, Scott MacRae, MD, professor of ophthalmology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and professor of visual science, Center for Visual Science, Strong Vision Refractive Surgery Center, Rochester, NY, said, "The modern medical dilemma is to use these very limited resources in terms of time, money, and individuals to do a maximum amount of good. That involves care with compassion and competence."