Meet your Peers: Phillip Virdi-Smith
This month we met with Phillip Virdi-Smith, the owner and director of Geoffrey Roberts Optometrists in Worcester. Phillip and his staff have been within the OcuPlan network for about two years and are helping many OcuPlan patients. We always get great feedback from our patients and from our consultants on the service that Phillip and his team provide.
Here is what Phillip had to say…
It seems your practice is really well renowned in the area, can you tell us a bit about it?
"Geoffrey Roberts Optometrists have been in St Johns in Worcester since 1973. It was started by Geoffrey who only finally retired about 2 years ago. The practice was grown by Geoffrey by providing the best possible optical knowledge and understanding, coupled with great clinical care."
The clinical care we now offer has developed over the years to the point today where fundus images and OCT scans are almost the norm, dry eye consultations and general eye care consultations occupy a significant proportion of our appointments and our time".
Most importantly, the local community are aware that we provide the very best in clinical care, meaning that we have a really loyal patient base."
You’ve been with OcuPlan for a while now, and always get brilliant feedback from your patients, can you tell us about how OcuPlan helps your store?
"Because we offer such clinical based care in this practice we have found that the final link in the chain of care, that final referral to an ophthalmologist has been lacking a little bit. That's not to criticise the NHS too much, they still do a wonderful job, but to get my patients to be reviewed by an ophthalmologist for more advanced treatment, or for monitoring ocular conditions, has been fraught with difficulty."
It can take too long to get an ophthalmological opinion and monitoring. That is where OcuPlan benefits our practice. Those with glaucoma, suspicious of glaucoma, those with dry eyes which don't respond to standard dry eye drops or those who are "worried well", all benefit from the reassurance or treatment of an annual consultation with a local consultant."
Joining OcuPlan was one of the motivating forces towards buying an OCT and updating my camera. A small practice like this one, even though it has a good loyal patient base, needs to ensure it can generate enough income from the enhanced equipment that we love to use. Joining OcuPlan helped ensure that it would not be a regrettable purchase."
My own aspirations to get more clinical experience is certainly enhanced by the OcuPlan system. I very much enjoy working with my local consultant, Mr Calladine and getting plenty of feedback for all my clinical ideas or for my diagnoses and treatment options. Referrals to the hospital eye service are often met with no reply."
How do you think OcuPlan helps your patients?
"There are cases where I am not sure of the diagnosis, or the patient is not sure how to proceed, or are frustrated with their eyes, or their vision. These are the people for whom an annual check under the OcuPlan system is entirely suitable. While this is not an emergency service, of course, it is efficient and can get reassurance to patients quicker than the NHS usually can."
We are continuously optimising our dashboard and systems to be intuitive and easy to use, do the systems work well for you?
"The OcuPlan systems are very good, they allow any number of files to be uploaded and hence reviewed by the ophthalmologist and the message tab helps the ophthalmologist to pass on his thoughts and management plan easily."
We launched in and around Worcester, but are quickly onboarding more optician practices in other parts of the UK. Do you have any advice to practices who may be considering joining OcuPlan?
"I think the OcuPlan service is a great addition to the service we as optometrists can offer. It helps me to care for the eyes of my patients. It helps me to learn and keep abreast of common, chronic eye conditions and that helps to keep patients out of the local hospital which, in turn, saves the NHS money and relieves a great burden to the NHS."
Finally, February is AMD awareness month, OcuPlan are passionate about prevention and the benefits of an early diagnosis (particularly dry AMD). Are you able to offer any words of advice to patients who may be seeing early signs of Dry AMD?
"I'm happy to monitor patients with AMD by myself, but early diagnosis of a treatable AMD is so important. Getting a regular assessment by an ophthalmologist is great peace of mind for me and for the patient."
If you would like to know how OcuPlan can help your store and your patients, please speak to our support team on 0207 173 5200.