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Chicago practice puts the eye in iPad

June 16, 2012

By Dominick M. Maino, O.D., and Geoffrey G. Goodfellow, O.D.

The use of a lion in an office might be too scary for most patients. But Lyons Family Eye Care, an urban optometric family practice in Chicago, not only combines a welcoming lion in its logo, but also makes the use of technology within its office less scary for all patients and the members of its eye care team.

AOA member Stephanie Lyons, O.D., and her husband/general manager, John, knew from the moment they decided to open a practice they would always stay ahead of the technology curve when it came to patient care.

By using this approach, Stephanie and John give their patients a unique office experience, the staff performs their job in a more efficient manner and the practice thrives financially.

Their office technology includes an electronic healh records (EHR) system, autokeratometer, autorefractor, autolensometer, non-contact tonometer, and digital phoropter. They also use iPads for the patient case history and initial patient check-in procedure, as well as digital visual acuity charts.

The Lyons Family Eye Care website has online appointment scheduling and an online optical as well.

I (Dr. Maino) hadn’t had an eye examination in a couple of years, so I decided that this would allow me to experience the use of the latest technology from the viewpoint of a patient.

I stepped up to the office desk, was warmly greeted by the staff, and was handed an iPad. I had initially started filling out the New Patient Information Form and realized I did not have my reading glasses on so I just enlarged the iPad image and continued filling out the form without my glasses. Most of the questions only required me to touch a box that was then automatically checked. For the information that required a typed response, the iPad’s built in touch-type screen popped up automatically when needed.

After about five minutes, the form was filled out. The office staff then hit a few buttons on the iPad, I signed the document and saw it was immediately sent to Dropbox. I then went into the pre-testing area. After the pretesting sequence was over, I moved to the examination room, sat down in the patient chair, and greeted my new doctor.

Dr. Lyons had my New Patient Information Form on her computer, asked me a few additional questions and then my comprehensive eye and vision examination was about to begin in earnest (I will talk about the exam in a future column).

The idea of using an iPad for patient forms came from one of the Lyons Family Eye Care patients, who was an Apple employee.

He also assisted in setting up the iPad as a patient encounter tool for the office.

Do you want to start using iPads in your office? Here’s what you will need:

  • An Apple iPad
  • PDFExpert app
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro
  • Dropbox
  • Compatible EHR

The PDFExpert (by Readdle) application can be found on Apple’sApp Store site. It has been updated for the iPad Retina Display and costs $9.99. This app will allow you to do many things with PDF files, including fill in forms, sign documents, and sync any folder on Dropbox, iDisk, Readdle Storage or WebDAV storage with a local folder on the iPad.

Acrobat Pro is available from Adobe. It allows you to create fill-in forms, collect data, and even allow these forms to be signed.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you upload and share your photographs, documents (like PDF files) and videos. Any file you save to Dropbox will automatically be saved to all your computers, digital phones and the Dropbox website.

Another app the office uses is the Braille Institute’s VisionSim program. This app demonstrates how various eye diseases affect vision. For instance, it will show a picture of wherever you are with simulations of macular degeneration and visual field loss due to glaucoma.

As an aide to helping patients choose their new glasses, Lyons Family Eye Care uses the forward-facing iPad camera as a “mirror” so the patient can see themselves while wearing their soon-to-be new glasses, as well as to send a picture/ video to their spouse for help deciding which pair of spectacles would be the best.

The patients’ responses to using an iPad in the office have been outstanding! And why not— one of the very first individuals to test out this approach was Dr. Lyon’s grandmother. High-tech and grandma approved; what more could you ask for in an office application?

Dr. Maino is a professor of pediatrics and binocluar vision at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO). He can be contacted at dmaino@ico.edu. Dr. Goodfellow is an associate professor of optometry at ICO and the college’s assistant dean for curriculum and assessment. He can be contacted at ggoodfel@ico.edu.

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