A new approach to providing ophthalmic healthcare:
Eisenhüttenstadt Augenzentrum (Eye Center Eisenhüttenstadt)
The Mission: There was a consensus between the opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists of the six different locations in Eisenhüttenstadt, that they needed to cooperate in order to fill the gap in the availability of ophthalmology services in the region.
The Solution: Topcon’s Harmony software allows all ophthalmic devices to be integrated into a single viewer, regardless of device brand and type. The cloud-based software delivers a harmonised and modern solution as it allows secure remote consultations, giving users at any location the ability to view and operate on the same information.
“Why should patients, city-wide, have to drive such a long way for an ophthalmologist appointment?”
– Peter Haubold-Kretschmer, Practice Manager of Augenzentrum Eisenhüttenstadt
Revolutionizing ophthalmic care
Overbooked ophthalmologists, crowded waiting rooms and less and less available appointments is a problem that can be observed all over Germany. With eye diseases becoming more prevalent in the aging population in the country, it is expected that the current deficit or unavailability of ophthalmology services will only worsen in the coming years. Even in the absence of such a deficit, new digital solutions are necessary in order to be able to maintain a high quality of eye care or to prevent a decrease in the quality of care available.
The Eisenhüttenstadt Augenzentrum has a pioneering role as it is equipped with advanced technology, and networked to improve the ophthalmological care of the population in the region of Eisenhüttenstadt. Thanks to this unique situation, the Eye Centre has been able to launch a completely new model of ophthalmic care.
Peter Haubold-Kretschmer is an owner of four optical stores in the region, two of which are located in Eisenhüttenstadt. He is therefore very familiar with the locals and the challenging eye care situation. Currently, there is only one ophthalmologist in Eisenhüttenstadt and she, alone, is unable to manage the care of approximately 27.000 people in the region. She also contemplates retiring her practice in the foreseeable future.
Dr. Anne Wildeck and Dr. Uta Sterzinsky operate an ophthalmology practice in Beeskow (a 30-minute car ride from Eisenhüttenstadt). Presently, a third of their patients are from Eisenhüttenstadt, many of which have complained about the long waiting times to get an appointment.
With the hope of reducing this deficit of ophthalmology services, Mr. Haubold-Kretschmer began to offer eye screenings and eye tests to be performed at his optical stores. The stores already have an outstanding range of examination devices available, in addition to the Harmony software.
Introducing new ways of working
The Augenzentrum Eisenhüttenstadt, lead by Peter Haubold-Kretschmer, was established as the new place to go for first-time patients. The patients are first screened and, if needed, they are then referred to an ophthalmologist through the Harmony digital network solution.
As a result of this new way of working both patients and ophthalmologists are able to see improvements in the situation. For patients, the wait and travel times for those needing to see an ophthalmologist are reduced. Also, eye diseases can be detected earlier and treated faster, which may lead to less complications and help to prevent irreversible health issues.
By implementing preventive examinations and screenings, ophthalmologists will also observe a reduction in the amount of work (and time) required of them. This positive outcome can also be enjoyed by patients as ophthalmologists now have more capacity to treat those who would not have ordinarily been seen at all or those entering eye clinics at too late of a stage.
Presentation of the refraction unit – from the left: Peter Haubold-Kretschmer, Dr. Anne Wildeck, Dr. Uta Sterzinsky. (Photo: Bernd Geller)
What to do with patients whose examination results reveal changes or issues in their eye health?
The Eye Centre, lead by Peter Haubold-Kretschmer, has been established as the new place to go for first-time patients. The Harmony software used in the Eye Centre connects the twenty-four examination devices at the Augenzentrum Eisenhüttenstadt to the fifteen devices in Drs. Wildeck’s and Dr. Sterzinsky’s ophthalmology clinics in Beeskow and Fürstenwalde.
Through the Harmony software solution’s data management platform, the doctors can provide their feedback on consultation requests, from any location. This reduces the waiting times for the patients needing to be treated, as well as visiting times. It also provides direct and better access to care, particularly for those patients suffering from acute eye conditions. Harmony brings a completely new level of eye care for those optical stores in the Harmony network by improving patients’ access to care overall.
Harmony demonstrates an enhanced workflow and better communication between the different eye care experts, being optometrists and ophthalmologists, so that they are able to treat their patients in a less burdensome environment.
Should there be acute patient cases, we are immediately reachable and able to analyse the examinations and diagnose patients, no matter where we are located.”
– Dr. Anne Wildeck, Ophthalmologist
The Harmony solution makes Augenzentrum Eisenhüttenstadt a pioneer of eye care in Germany.
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