The impact of technology promises to influence optometry for many years to come. My first office computer was an IBM PC with 64K RAM memory and two 360K floppy drives. Its impact printer shook the table as it pounded out patient report letters. Wordstar was the word processing software. It was the best $6,000 investment I ever made for the practice.
During my fourth year externship with the late Dr. George Gottschalk in Camp Hill, PA, I learned the importance of clearly communicating with medical colleagues. Every patient with a medical condition triggered a report letter to their attending physician. The letters were immaculate with justified text on high quality paper that started with “Our mutual patient presented with…”
I didn’t have hospital privileges and didn’t see many of the primary care physicians in my area on a regular basis. But my report letters became an ambassador introducing primary care optometry to physicians who cared for my patients. The ability to communicate to other healthcare providers in the community is a powerful tool to build your practice. This is especially important when your patients require a referral to receive vision care or medical services at your office.
Improved technology eliminated the impact printer with a quiet laser printer. Better word processing software permitted report letters to be generated easily with a template. Patient management software also permitted individualized reports to be given to patients when they checked out at the front desk.
Now, we have smartphones. We are seeing them being integrated into imaging systems on biomicroscopes and handheld autorefractors. Up next, smart contact lenses. The FDA just approved a smart contact lens that monitors intraocular pressure for 24 hours. Imagine the data you will be able to analyze with your glaucoma patients and the care options this will create.
Sometimes I think I was born 25 years too early.
Richard Clompus, OD, FAAO | Professional Editor