“OLEEP is a first of its kind CPD program designed to deliver measurable improvements in patient outcomes. Having ophthalmologists impart their clinical wisdom to help optometrists improve their referral practices is invaluable,” Dr Joseph Paul, Specsavers Optometry Development Consultant.
In 2019, Specsavers launched the Ophthalmologist Local Education and Engagement Program (OLEEP), to facilitate and encourage local collaboration between optometry and ophthalmology, and provide optometrists with continuing impactful professional development.
The ongoing program is held throughout the year in various locations around Australia, led by RANZCO ophthalmologists and attended by hundreds of optometrists.
The program places emphasis on measurable improvements to patient outcomes in a format that is both relevant and engaging for optometrists.
The initial focus of the program has been on glaucoma detection. Through Optometry Benchmark Reporting, changes in both overall referral rates and consistency of referral rates between optometrists can be quantified following OLEEP events.
The point of difference for this program compared to others, is that direct feedback based on current activity is delivered from local ophthalmologists to optometrists as part of each education session.
Before each event, ophthalmologists are provided with a summary of referral rates for the optometry practices in their area using Optometry Benchmark Reports. This allows the ophthalmologist to identify areas of inconsistency between optometrists that can be addressed in the OLEEP educational content. This then drives relevant discussion on clinical decision making and how the patient care pathway can be optimised, tailored to their region or locality.
This allows optometrists involved in the training to reflect on how their clinical processes have changed following the events, while facilitating discussion between peers to further embed positive changes and drive consistency among clinical teams and optometrists working in the region.
Early stage results
In the first two months following the OLEEP pilot event, the participating optometry practices increased glaucoma detection from 1.1% to 1.6% of patients – a level approaching population prevalence.
This increase in referrals aligned with an increased utilisation of visual field testing – from 8.1% to 11.4% of patients. Referral rates and visual field performance rates have remained consistent in the 5 months following the event before writing this, indicating successful embedding of changes to clinical processes following the OLEEP event.
Across the full cohort of OLEEP participants to date, glaucoma detection has increased from 1.1% to 1.4% of patients. It is anticipated that this figure will approach prevalence rates as clinical teams continue to embed more consistent referral practices over time and further OLEEP events are held.
These promising early results are a strong endorsement of specialist-led and outcome-based education in delivering measurable improvements to clinical processes and patient outcomes. We will continue to monitor results from OLEEP and will present a detailed account and further learnings in due course.