Three years ago, the optometric industry began a once-in-a-generation journey to increase the rates of eye examinations and reduce the rates of diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early when they are treatable. KeepSight is a private-public partnership, setting aside commercial competitiveness and focussing on industry-wide collaboration and cooperation to enhance patient health outcomes at rates never achieved before. Dr Benjamin Ashby, Director of Optometry at Specsavers ANZ, shares Specsavers’ latest findings to mark the program’s third anniversary.

One of the first steps of the KeepSight strategy has been to build a large database of patients with diabetes who have consented to be a part of the program. Without these patients, there would be no way for KeepSight to make the impact it has set out to achieve.

While initial conversations establishing KeepSight were underway in December 2018, Specsavers made alterations to its patient management software enabling Specsavers to capture baseline data for the prevalence of diabetes and diabetic eye disease among its patients, and to understand certain behaviour trends exhibited by this patient group, to highlight the need to remediate health outcomes for Australians with diabetes. Specsavers also used this information to enhance its internal recall strategy specific to patients with diabetes, which now works in conjunction with KeepSight reminders.

As seen in chart 1 below, when KeepSight launched in 2019, Specsavers optometrists manually registered patients to the program through its website. As this was not a viable long-term or scalable solution, Specsavers invested in the development and adoption of a range of systems and processes across its network of practices to make the registration process as simple as possible for optometrists.

Integration with Oculo to enable KeepSight registration directly, which is now available for the entire industry to utilise, was completed in July 2019 and registration rates from Specsavers optometrists rapidly increased to more than 6,000 per month nationwide. In early 2020, Specsavers and the entire optometric industry experienced a significant restriction on our ability to provide eye care for patients due to COVID-19. This caused a backlog of patients and, as services began to open again in different parts of the country, Specsavers saw the potential to strengthen its support of patients with diabetes by investing further into its systems and processes and enabling KeepSight registrations directly from its patient management software. This further streamlined the registration process and saw KeepSight registrations increase to more than 20,000 registrations per month, representing two thirds of all patients with diabetes.

Between January 2019 and April 2022, Specsavers has registered more than 400,000 eye check appointments (initial and follow up) to KeepSight.

NB: ‘Registrations’ includes initial registrations, when a patient is first signed up to KeepSight; and also appoinment registrations, where the optometrist notifies KeepSight when a patient attends a follow up appointment.