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    Integrated care means integrating the best care

    Patients benefit when ODs and MDs work together in harmony

    Lately, it seems that there has been a lot of chatter regarding the concept of integrated care (I will use the abbreviation IC because it makes it sound mysterious and highbrow). The Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corporation (RIPCPCIC) defines IC as “aligning one cohort of physicians that all work collaboratively to provide the best patient care, often using the same medical record system and having the same goals in mind.”

    In fact, this seamless patient care should not have to be defined—it should be an unwritten code when working with our patients. However, this was not always representative of IC when defined by ophthalmology. Sadly, I think there is still thin layer of skepticism on both sides.


    No longer us vs. them

    Historically, optometry and ophthalmology have worked in parallel universes with very little room to cross paths. Yet, this model didn’t provide the appropriate care necessary for our aging populace. Organizations such as American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) were able to view optometry as adjunctive or at least a primary source of ophthalmic care for patients. Regarded in this manner, optometrists regularly attended meetings and shared podiums with their ophthalmology brethren.

    More from Dr. Bloomenstein: New correction option for presbyopes

    Sometime not that long ago, this peaceful commune of eyecare professionals was fractured by the acceptance of optometric diagnostic and therapeutic expansion. In fact, we were disinvited from the educational party—I mean not even a seat at the technician table! Forget the whole concept of comanagement, this was drawing a line in the sand and staking claim. Frankly, it hurt. It hurt optometry. It hurt a lot of non-agreeing ophthalmologists, and most of all, it detracted from the common goal of integrating our care for the patients we share and thus hurt the patient.

    A lot has changed in the decade since that day the proverbial music died. Refractive-minded optometrists got together to create a forum of research and education in the surgical arena. Pioneers such Paul Karpecki, OD, and Lou Phillips, OD, started the Optometric Council on Refractive Technology (OCRT) and created optometry’s own small yet effective forum to cooperatively work with ophthalmologist to keep this flow of information downstream. OCRT was joined by other integrated societies, such as Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) and Optometric Retina Society (ORS) to further establish the role that optometrists play in the management of these surgical and disease states. Integrating new technology, new ideas, and sea changes into our treatment theme has provided our patients with better eye care. The formation of surgical-related optometry-centric meetings filled a void and at the same time strengthened the acumen of all optometry. Awareness was raised that it is not us vs. them; instead it is we for patients, leading to more discussion about what constitutes an IC.

    Next: Coordinated care means communication


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