If undetected, diabetic retinopathy can lead to irreversible blindness. But when caught early, it can be treated and blindness prevented.
Suzanne Beshara, Programme Manager, Bradford and Airedale NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme explains: “Our uptake was 72-73% in 2011 against a target of 70%. But now we’re hitting 85% uptake. And that’s with an ever-growing patient list – we had 22,000 patients nine years ago, now we have 35,000.”
A complex issue
Suzanne explains: “A patient’s vision is usually unaffected until retinopathy gets to the most serious point. So a lot of people assume they’re fine and don’t come for their appointments. Our job is to convince them to come in, be screened, and sort out any issues now while they can.”
Medical Imaging provides full administration of the service. Suzanne explains: “We changed our way of offering appointments - we tested sending out a pre-booked date and time instead of an invitation to book. It worked – we measured the effect of this change and our attendance rates increased.”
Support from technology
The project has been supported by EMIS Health software – the UK’s leading provider in diabetic retinopathy screening software.
“We have a close working relationship with the local hospital,” said Suzanne. “Our OptoMize software connects with the hospital’s Medisoft system, so we can track the patient’s journey from clinic to hospital – it’s vital for the patients with the most serious cases. Once we can see that the patient has been referred to hospital, we call them and let them know. We can see who hasn’t turned up and we can chase them. We can track patients easily, and it helps us reach more people.”