Breaking down silos

1 February 2024
Winter 2024

Jane Veys MCOptom on breaking down the silos that define medical specialties.

In the maze of modern healthcare, the silos that define medical specialties and professions are both necessary and limiting. While specialisation allows for depth of knowledge and expertise, it can inadvertently stifle innovation and impede the exchange of valuable insights. 

By the very nature of an eye examination, working alone in a dark consulting room, it is all too easy to work in a silo, especially for sole clinicians in a practice, with the risk of narrow-minded thinking or repeating mistakes.

Our article Should optometrists ever work alone? asks the provocative question, should optometrists ever work alone? Do you ever consider yourself as a lone worker? Does your practice have a lone-working policy? A thought-provoking read considering risks, red flags and rewards. 

Whether you are the sole practitioner or have professional colleagues working alongside you, connecting and collaborating within your own practice team and wider optometric networks remain critical, but so too is ensuring connectivity with secondary care.  

Collaboration with ophthalmology has made significant strides over the decades since I qualified, but improved connectivity between optometry and ophthalmology can be hampered by imaging devices and viewing platforms being unable to communicate well with each other. Digital imaging plays a crucial role in eye care referrals and our article Picture perfect explores the problem of sharing ophthalmic images within and between primary and secondary care.

In unity we find strength, and in collaboration we find progress

I am encouraged to read that a cross-sector Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) Task and Finish group has been formed for eye care, developing common standards for how images are configured, saved and extracted. While the finish may not be on the immediate horizon for eye care nationally, we should be inspired and encouraged by specialties such as radiology that have led the way in the field of image-sharing.   

Learning from other specialties is vital, but so too is ensuring we are connected and accessible to all our patients. The law requires us to make “reasonable adjustments” when providing services for people with disabilities. Our article Loud and clear discusses how optometrists can ensure they are equipped to meet the needs of deaf patients and make services accessible. After reading this article, I have added deaf awareness training to my personal development plan for the coming year, and I look forward to connecting with audiologists and specialist charities to achieve this aim. 

Optometry is an evolving profession, but the benefits of looking beyond the silos of our own optometric practices are vast and transformative. In developing our professional knowledge and skills, we should embrace the wisdom and best practices that lie beyond our immediate domain. In unity we find strength, and in collaboration we find progress.

Jane Veys MSc MCOptom FIACLE

Jane has been involved in optometry for over 30 years and is an experienced educator, facilitator and scientific writer. She has published more than 50 articles, authored a leading contact lens textbook and created industry leading digital education series.

Image credit | Caroline-Andrieu

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