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Cover Stories | Nov/Dec 2009

Incorporating Software Into Practice

Luma helps physicians manage and educate patients.

As doctors, we cannot practice the art of medicine and leave the rest to someone else; we must also be educators and business managers. Today's economic challenges have contributed to declining reimbursements and lower conversion rates of premium products, which makes our role as business managers more challenging than ever. Yet, we still need to effectively communicate and educate our patients in a well-organized manner. This article explains my goals for a new education module, Luma software (Eyemaginations, Inc., Towson, MD).

Here is a common scenario that we ophthalmologists face. A patient in his or her mid 60s has very little understanding of presbyopia and the cause and implications of his or her cataracts. We try to allay the patient's fear of surgery by explaining the prognosis, the progression of presbyopia and cataracts, and the effects on a patient's life postoperatively. Once the patient understands the medical process, we explain the realities of the business process. In short, insurance will only cover standard monofocal lenses, and other IOL technologies entail additional cost to the patient. While trying to provide all of the information required for the patient to reach a decision, our waiting room is full of other individuals who require similar discussions.

When it comes to educating patients, a picture is worth a thousand words. Software can provide compelling animations on relevant medical topics and treatment options (Figure 1). Patients see, learn, and better comprehend their options before making a decision. This important component helps to relieve the burden on doctors and staff by providing patients with the information they need to ask meaningful questions during their office visit.

Offering Multiple Patient-Friendly Tools
My colleagues and I use Luma software for eye care professionals, because we like its patient-friendly features. With Luma, patients' education begins in the waiting room and lasts until they leave the office.

We use Luma's scheduling tools to run information on a specific disease process. For example, one could schedule all of glaucoma patients on a certain half-day and run only glaucoma-specific information. One could do the same with refractive, cataract, or oculoplastic procedures, for a particular half-day. For cataract patients, one could run the educational tracts on premium IOLs while they are in the waiting area so the patients are more knowledgeable prior to being seen by staff or doctors. In the optical arena, Luma's 3D visual simulations show the benefits of and differences between the technologies and demonstrate to patients what premium spectacle lenses and add-ons will provide to their visual experience.

Examination Advisor
The examination advisor feature of the Luma software utilizes an interactive platform to demonstrate the progression of conditions and pathologies (Figures 2 and 3). This element helps patients understand what can happen if their condition changes or worsens.

Within the examination advisor technology, there is a point-of-view tool. This mechanism demonstrates to patients how their vision may be affected by a number of conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Draw-Over-Video Technology
Luma's draw-over-video technology allows users to stop, start, and draw over the 3D simulations much like an on-screen football play. This tool allows me to customize the presentation to suit each patient.

The interactive tools of the Luma software system allow me to blend my roles as a doctor, educator, and business manager by making complicated medical topics more understandable to patients. In my experience, educational software allows my team and me to quickly and effectively explain conditions and procedures, eliminates our repetition of routine information, and saves us time. Educational software differentiates my practice from competitors' and helps me attract and retain patients. In the end, improving the patient's experience through interactive education benefits both of us.

John F. Doane, MD, is in private practice with Discover Vision Centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and he is a clinical assistant professor for the Department of Ophthalmology, Kansas University Medical Center. He acknowledged no financial interest in the product or company mentioned herein. Dr. Doane may be reached at (816) 478-1230; jdoane@discovervision.com.

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