CHICAGO Efficiency and better patient care are the top reasons ophthalmologists and optometrists should work together in an integrated office setting, according to a panel of ophthalmologists and optometrists speaking here.
Growing patient demand for health care and a thinning pool of eye care practitioners is going to make such an integrated delivery model necessary, OSN Global Chief Medical Editor and outgoing ASCRS president Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, said at a symposium held here at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery meeting.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists from small and large practices as well as academic settings spoke about their reasons for integrating and their thoughts on why other practices should consider following the model.
"It turns out we can work well side by side," Dr. Lindstrom said. "We're going to have to learn to be very efficient to meet these patient demands."
Dr. Lindstrom introduced his Ophthalmologist-led Integrated Eyecare Delivery System, which he said works well in larger practice settings. The efficiencies that are created from the partnership will lead to better compensation, communication and respect, he said.
Robert H. Osher, MD, runs a large integrated practice in Cincinnati. He said he integrated his practice originally so that he could devote more time to teaching and patient care. The results have been satisfying in many ways, he said.
When he is out of the office, he said he feels comfortable leaving it in his colleagues' care.
"I have total, complete peace of mind ... and I love that feeling," he said. "Working together has been the key to our success."
Paul M. Karpecki, OD, said belonging to that same integrated practice has allowed him to concentrate his efforts on ocular surface disease.
"It's much more specialized (in an integrated system)," he said. "The more you do of anything, the better you become."
Marc R. Bloomenstein, OD, and others on the panel agreed that integrating allows them to be better doctors to their patients.
"The bottom line is that the patients are the ones who benefit the most," Dr. Bloomenstein said.