I am both excited and honored to take on the role of Chief Medical Editor of CRST, alongside two close colleagues, Steven J. Dell, MD, and Robert J. Weinstock, MD, who have held this esteemed position for several years. It’s my pleasure to kick off the new year with this first issue. I am hopeful that, in 2020, new products and philosophies will emerge to help raise our collective quality of work in serving our patients. Ophthalmology is historically a field in which near constant and persistent innovation has taken place to propel us forward on our neverending quest to achieve the famed 20/20 or better visual acuity. With that said, our professional work is much more than achieving a line on the vision chart. We should strive for a visual experience that transcends this measure.
By making use of some of the latest technologies, most of our patients are able to achieve that illustrious goal of seeing 20/20, and some even achieve results beyond this line goal. As more and more providers are able to consistently and reliably deliver 20/20 visual acuity to their patients, we can expect to experience further increases in patient expectations, which even now often outpace the technology available to achieve their expanding visual goals. Thankfully, providers have many methods, beyond the traditional line chart, by which to exceed the growing needs of our patients.
The 2020 patient experience may be best defined as meeting or exceeding our patients’ vision expectations, which rest not only on the line of vision that they can achieve but also on their overall visual experience. So much so that we have become familiar with evaluating postoperative success by metrics such as patient satisfaction, visual comfort, and independence from spectacles.
Furthermore, the patient journey is often more important than the intended outcome itself. Patients judge providers, at least initially, by the practice’s online presence. That impression then extends to the phone call the patient makes for scheduling, to the experiences they have with the practice’s support staff, and so on. With each touchpoint, providers can frame the 2020 experience in either a positive or negative light for their patients. In an age in which one patient’s experience can be broadcast to literally millions of people via social media, the pressure to achieve a positive experience throughout each step of the patient journey is at a critically high level.
I was honored to gather a team of experts, each of whom has a history of going above and beyond 20/20 as a measure of success, to contribute to this issue. Our colleagues featured herein share various ways by which we can provide the 2020 Experience to our patients—beyond just the Snellen chart. They discuss strategies for patient education and peer collaboration that can help set the stage for expectations and current and new technologies that can deliver on these expectations, such as new lenses that can provide not only optimal Snellen acuity but also a functional and comfortable visual experience. Let’s not forget about the refractive surgery experience, which is enhanced by today’s laser platforms and ablation strategies such as those discussed in this issue.
It is an amazing time to be in ophthalmology. We have technologies in our toolset that can help create and deliver an unprecedented visual experience to our patients. Moving forward, it will be important for our profession to incorporate these and other new technologies and philosophies into our practices so that the field can continue to grow—in 2020 and beyond.