BLOG: How to be a better doctor today
The cover story in this issue of Ocular Surgery News focuses on noninfectious uveitis and new treatments that help control inflammation. Some of them, like Yutiq from EyePoint Pharmaceuticals and Ozurdex from Allergan, deliver anti-inflammatories inside the eye — an appealing approach because of the slow release of drug and the elimination of compliance issues. But of course, eye drops are used to treat most conditions in our specialty, and we know patients consistently fail to take them well. This is a bigger problem than most of us would like to acknowledge, yet few of us make the effort to educate patients on how to take drops. We would all be better doctors if we did.
Several studies have examined the size and scope of the eye drop compliance problem. One study from Angela An evaluated cataract surgery patients who were inexperienced in using eye drops. The study examined their accuracy in getting the drop in the eye, instilling just one drop, incidents of contaminating the bottle tip or failing to take the medication entirely. Combined, her study found that 92% of patients fail on at least one of these measures. Further, 72% said they received no instruction in the use of drops before surgery.
Simple instructions can help patients a lot. Several years ago, I developed for my patients a video on eye drop technique, and I posted it on YouTube. You are welcome to use it for your own patients. Initially, we handed out a slip of paper with a QR code and video link to any patient who was receiving a prescription for drops or taking artificial tears. More recently, we included a direct link to it with educational material that goes out with our software that links to our medical record and automates patient education modules for common diagnoses. We have seen a major difference in patients’ confidence in taking their drops, and this video, which has received 66,000 views as of this writing, has received the single most positive feedback from patients as to its impact on their self-care. Certainly there are other quality online instruction aids for eye drops from different institutions, and a paper brochure could help patients as well. What matters is that we take the time to offer instruction.
We become better doctors when we anticipate our patients’ challenges and help solve them proactively. Educating on eye drops is an incredibly simple but monumentally beneficial step you can take right now to help your patients have an easier journey and take better care of themselves, and it makes you a better doctor, too.
Disclosure: Hovanesian reports a financial interest in MDbackline.