Better data, better care: ophthalmic public health data report 2013

The College of Optometrists has published 'Better data, better care: ophthalmic public health data report 2013’.

'Better data, better care: ophthalmic public health data report 2013' has been compiled through research and discussion within the ophthalmic public health sector. A workshop of optometrists, ophthalmologists and other representatives from the sector studied a review of the available literature on ophthalmic public health data, and the findings of the review and the discussions from the workshop led to the report.

The report makes the following recommendations for optometrists:

  1. Work to improve the quality of data obtained from the Certificates of Vision Impairment (CVI) process to ensure that the eye health indicator remains in the Public Health Outcomes Framework beyond 2016.
  2. Move to electronic systems for General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) payment claims.
  3. Include information about ethnicity on, and record all data from, GOS forms to better understand the eye health needs of the local population.
  4. Work with Government to include the NHS number in a way that is feasible to operate in community practice.
  5. Move to electronic systems to enable community optometrists to communicate with hospitals and GP surgeries and include back-up information with referrals.
  6. Encourage the completion of the Department of Health project to produce a standardised data set for referrals.
  7. Design a system which will allow referrals from optometrists to be clinically audited by subspecialty.
  8. Reintroduce a system to provide a more accurate estimate of private sight tests.
  9. Help optometrists understand how the collection of full and accurate data will protect the future of the profession and raise its profile with key decision makers, other health professions and the public.

The publication of this report follows on from the optical sector joint strategy published in 2011. The strategy identified three priority areas for the sector to focus on: knowledge, capacity and communication. 'Better data, better care: ophthalmic public health data report 2013' is a College contribution to the area of 'knowledge'.

Having good quality data on sight loss and blindness allowed an eye health indicator to be included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for England in 2012. The fact that the sector could use data and evidence to make sure eye health was included in the wider public health agenda shows the opportunities that improved information can give. Professionals in the eye sector should support the indicator and the data set it is based on, to make sure that eye health continues to be recognised as part of public health.

© Dr Rob Hogan 2017