Clinical audit is a key component of evidence-based practice in all fields of healthcare. The aim of a clinical audit is to improve the provision of care to patients, by enabling clinicians to find out whether their current care practices are appropriate, and identify any potential shortfalls in their practice(s), as a basis for practice improvement.
As major providers of primary eye care, optometrists play a key role in providing clinical care to people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The clinical management of earlier stages of AMD primarily involves providing advice about key lifestyle risk factors, in particular smoking and diet, which can modify the risk of developing AMD or having progressive retinal changes.
Recognising a lack of audit tools available for optometrists to use, Dr. Downie and collaborators Prof. Robyn Guymer, A/Prof. Peter Keller, Dr. Lauren Ayton and Prof. Algis Vingrys from the University of Melbourne were awarded a Macular Disease Foundation Australia grant, to develop an optometric clinical audit tool to assess the quality of eye care provided to people with AMD. This innovative auditing platform, called the Macular Degeneration Clinical Care Audit Tool (MaD-CCAT), enables optometrists to self evaluate their practices relative to current clinical guidelines. This process enables any potential areas for practice improvement to be identified, in order to enhance the quality of optometric care provided and thus, improve health outcomes.
The MaD-CCAT enables streamlined auditing of several aspects of AMD care, including the: identification of modifiable risk factors (such as smoking and diet behaviours), accuracy of the clinical diagnosis, rate and timeliness of referrals to ophthalmologists, and overall quality of clinical record keeping. Clinicians are guided through the audit process with step-by-step instructions. For ease of analysis, a summary statistics worksheet automatically populates key information comparing the optometrist’s practices with best-practice AMD guidelines.
The MaD-CCAT was launched by Dr Downie in May 2018 at the Southern Regional Congress (SRC) in Melbourne, which is the largest Australian optometry education conference, and is attended by ~800 optometrists. The MaD-CCAT is currently being piloted in a number of optometry practices around Australia. Collected data will provide insight into the clinical care provided by optometrists to people with AMD, and will be used to inform future education programs relating to AMD clinical care. This project is thus contributing to enhancing the quality of eye care provided to people with AMD, being an eye condition of major significance in our community.
To read more about the research grant awarded to Dr Downie click HERE