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Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) has reached 7,000 referrals for advanced imaging, marking another milestone since opening its doors to the public less than two years ago.
Almost 500 of these referrals have come from Dr Ong, an ophthalmologist who refers patients less able to afford, or otherwise access, advanced ocular imaging. According to Dr Ong “CFEH provides an excellent service with regards to investigations that require expensive equipment. Patients appreciate the service provided, especially those who cannot afford tests that are not Medicare rebatable.
“Some tests require equipment that is rarely used” he says.“CFEH makes it easy for the ophthalmologist to access these rarely used tests. It means that I do not have to purchase and maintain equipment that is not often used. It helps reduce the cost of running an ophthalmic practice, and hence reduces the costs that need to be passed on to patients."
According to Centre Director Michael Kalloniatis, there has been an increase in the number of ophthalmologists utilising the services of the Centre. “Despite some initial uncertainty about how CFEH would contribute to ophthalmology practices, a growing number of ophthalmologists are embracing CFEH’s extensive range of tests that are available at no charge” says Professor Kalloniatis.“They tell me that it also improves their patient care, because they have more time for consultation and treatment.
“For optometrists, who provide 75% of primary eye care in our community, the value of CFEH was more obvious and they were quick to make regular use of the services available at the Centre. In fact, many have come to see the Centre as an extension to their own practice."
John Boulos is one such optometrist. “What is critical for me is that my patients have accessible care” he says. “These people are mostly pensioners, so there are cost and access issues. CFEH gives my patients a comprehensive assessment, so that I can make a more informed decision about whether to keep monitoring or refer the patient for specialist care. My patients come back saying how fantastic the service was that they received, and it’s actually become a source of other referrals to my own practice”.