Eye care professionals know that patients with diabetes often neglect the regular eye exams necessary to maintain their vision. However, researchers have discovered patients with diabetes are more likely to schedule and keep eye exams when the patient’s primary care physician (PCP) and eye care provider (ECP) communicate with each other.
Researchers at the University of Southern California conducted a retrospective study of 1,968 patients with diabetes who were seen at an urban ophthalmology center. They discovered written communication from an ophthalmologist to a patient’s PCP and communication from a PCP to an ophthalmologist were significantly associated with increased adherence to diabetic eye examinations within the time frame recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
According to Dennis Pardo, VP of Medical Affairs at Zeavision, OD’s are an important part of the systemic disease eye care team for the patient. Effective and consistence communication on co-management are key to improving compliance and hopefully quality of patient care.
“The key message is that diabetes patients are most likely to make and keep appointments for dilated eye examinations when the PCP and/or endocrinologist sends a consult report or request to ophthalmologists,” says A. Paul Chous, OD, MA, FAAO, who serves on the Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member. “The effect was positive but less robust when the ophthalmologist sent a report to the PCP/endocrinologist. This underscores the importance of inter-professional communication, especially from the diabetes physician to ECPs.”
Because ODs are increasingly involved in managing systemic disease such as diabetes, communication with a patient’s other healthcare providers is paramount to providing comprehensive patient care.
This new evidence proves how important communication is among healthcare providers and ECPs are, according to the article in Optometry Today.
ECPs should also discuss with PCPs any systemic medications the patient is taking, which may have an impact on the disease. For example, certain medications can drain the body of nutrients that could be replaced by a dietary supplement.
A team of doctors working together increases the patient’s compliance and helps with the patient’s overall management. This also serves to benefit an eye care professional’s practice – working with PCPs can help to increase referrals.
Dr. Paul Chous was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus at age five. He completed his undergraduate education at Brown University and UC Irvine, and then received his Masters and Doctorate of Optometry degrees with highest honors from UC Berkeley. Dr. Chous has a private practice specializing in diabetes eye care and education in Tacoma, WA.
Dr. Chous won the American Diabetes Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1998. Learn what this expert has to say about Turning the Tie: Improving Retinal Metabolism, structure and function in Diabetes with Nutritional Supplements.