Addenbrooke’s Hospital introduced a virtual strabismus clinic in March 2021 to manage patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to explore the feasibility and utility of this care model by evaluating its effectiveness in delivering patient care.
Clinic data from April 2021 to April 2022 were retrospectively analysed, including patient demographics, referral information and outcomes. All patients underwent an initial assessment by a specialist orthoptist, preceding virtual review by a consultant ophthalmologist.
The clinic saw 114 patients between the ages of 12 and 95 during this period, with an increasing number of patients seen per month. Within two months of the clinic’s inception, wait times reduced by 59%: from 30.2 weeks to 12.5 weeks, remaining constant thereafter. Most referrals came from optometrists, with diplopia and identification of new or recurring strabismus being the most common complaint. Virtual review outcome varied significantly: 30.7% of patients were discharged, 16.7% listed for surgery, 34.2% received a repeat FTF review and a further 18.4% received a review virtually.
Following its inception, the virtual clinic was able to effectively accommodate patients despite capacity restraints. This was partly achieved through the effective utilisation of specialised orthoptists. Subsequent virtual review by a consultant ophthalmologist achieved positive patient outcomes.
Virtual clinics provide an opportunity to optimise patient care and maximise efficiency of clinical input. If applied appropriately, this model of patient care may reduce the NHS burden, improving wait times to facilitate faster intervention. Increasing consultant availability permits the treatment of a greater number of patients.
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