Optometrists in Cambridgeshire have begun using a digital platform designed by an NHS surgeon and a team of healthcare specialists to accelerate treatment, tackle long wait times, and reduce pressure on health services.
The accessible technology, which is currently being rolled out across the county, gives optometrists access to on-the-spot advice and guidance from specialist clinical colleagues, thus supporting faster, more-collaborative patient treatment.
During, or after, the consultation, the optometrist now has a way to quickly connect with a secondary care colleague when they need specialist advice about the patient’s treatment.
Using the Cinapsis SmartReferrals platform on their PC or mobile phone, optometrists access specialist advice via locally-designed care pathways that support the smooth flow of data between primary, secondary, and tertiary care.
To support diagnosis and care planning, the technology allows for the instant and safe transfer of high-resolution images, documents, complete OCT scans, and videos directly between mobile devices.
For too long, optometrists have been forced to work with outdated technologies that eat up their time and get in the way of delivering efficient patient care
And, if specialist treatment is necessary, the secure and compliant integrated pathways enable optometrists to directly refer patients into secondary care or any commissioned community care provider.
This streamlining of the process relieves workload from the region’s GPs, who are currently heavily involved in the referral process.
Key benefits include:
- The removal of paper-based processes from optometry referrals
- Increasing the percentage of referrals that are sent with accompanying images, which improves triage and diagnostic accuracy
- Opening a two-way communication loop between optometrists and service providers
- The provision of data insights for the ICS and service providers, helping them manage workload, plan care, analyse trends, and allocate spending
Two NHS foundation trusts, including Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, are involved in the project pilot, meaning that participating optometrists can access advice and guidance from colleagues at Addenbrooke’s, Hinchingbrooke, and. Peterborough City hospitals.
The pilot is currently in its expansion phase, with more of the region’s optometrists having now onboarded onto the platform.
Alison Lask, an optometrist and commissioning lead at Cambridgeshire Local Optical Committee (LOC) and clinical governance performance lead at Primary Eye Care (Cambs), said: “For too long, optometrists have been forced to work with outdated technologies that eat up their time and get in the way of delivering efficient patient care.
“My colleagues and I need solutions that are intuitive to use and are designed to relieve workloads, rather than add to them.
“It’s clear that this is a platform that has been built by healthcare professionals, for healthcare professionals, and it really is a pleasure to use.
“I can now access advice and guidance while my patients are in the consulting room, and in just a few minutes I can manage their secondary care referral directly from the Cinapsis platform.
“This is the future of collaborative eyecare delivery in Cambridgeshire.”
We built the new optometry pathway in direct consultation with Cambridgeshire practitioners, meaning that we’ve been able to tailor it exactly to their needs, integrate it with their existing systems, and make it incredibly user friendly
The company behind the technology, Cinapsis, is currently part of an Alpha Team working with NHSX and other providers to build an Application Programming Interface (API) that will enable the optometrist to launch the Electronic Referral System (e-RS) directly from within the Practice Management System (PMS).
Once added to Cinapsis’ SmartReferrals pathway, the feature will save significant amounts of time for clinicians and enable them to see more patients.
Dominic Markham, project delivery manager at Cinapsis, said: “It’s been incredible to witness the positive response we’ve received from every clinician involved in the trial stages of this project.
“We built the new optometry pathway in direct consultation with Cambridgeshire practitioners, meaning that we’ve been able to tailor it exactly to their needs, integrate it with their existing systems, and make it incredibly user friendly.
“It’s never been more important to develop new solutions to relieve pressure from NHS clinicians, and widening access to advice and guidance is one of the most-impactful ways of doing that.
“We are excited to onboard more optometrists onto the platform over the coming months and to partner with more NHS trusts across Britain.”
The project follows Cinapsis’ DTAC approval, and its inclusion as a listed supplier in the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for Electronic Eyecare Referral Systems (EeRS).