Getting to Know the Patient Behind the Eyes
Your patients are more than their eyes. When it comes to determining the right IOL for patients, ophthalmologists don’t only need to look at the patient’s unique ocular anatomy – they also need to look at their career, their hobbies, and their personality traits.
What you need to know before choosing an IOL
Your patients are more than their eyes. When it comes to determining the right IOL for patients, ophthalmologists don’t only need to look at the patient’s unique ocular anatomy – they also need to look at their career, their hobbies, and their personality traits. For instance, a perfectionist who regularly performs crossword puzzles may benefit from one type of IOL, whereas a more carefree patient who regularly participates in sports might benefit from another.
Throughout the years, ophthalmologists have pursued numerous methods to find the best IOL for each patient. Oftentimes, these methods involve educating the patients about the benefits (and drawbacks) of each IOL type.
Unfortunately, patients tend to be overwhelmed when they’re provided with too much information; they might also misunderstand common ophthalmic terms.
“I tried using counselors, videos and the like, but inevitably the patients still needed a discussion with a surgeon to go over their various options,” said ophthalmologist Steven Dell in a July interview with Review of Ophthalmology. Dr. Dell is the Medical Director at Dell Laser consultants, and an international leader in refractive, cataract, and LASIK surgery. “Also, I wanted to develop a common vocabulary with the patients quickly. For instance, when I say, ‘intermediate vision,’ I know that I’m referring to a computer screen’s distance. A patient, however, might think I mean a TV set that’s 10 feet away, as opposed to ‘distance’ vision, which might be a mile away. And all this needed to be communicated quickly.”
Thus, the Dell questionnaire was born.
How the Dell questionnaire helps surgeons and patients
The Dell questionnaire is a lifestyle questionnaire designed to help surgeons identify the right IOL for each patient. The questionnaire was first published in 2004, and has been recently been updated to reflect changing technology, both in ophthalmic surgery and the world in general. For instance, the updated Dell questionnaire contains questions pertaining to tablets and smartphones. It also accounts for the benefits and drawbacks of modern IOLs.
Lifestyle questionnaires like the Dell Questionnaire are an excellent way for doctors to learn more about their patients. During a lifestyle questionnaire, patients fill out a form outlining their symptoms, their hobbies, and their career. A good lifestyle questionnaire shouldn’t only educate the surgeon, however – it should also educate the patients about the surgery and manage their expectations about the outcome.
“Just the act of filling out the questionnaire, reading the questions, tells them that maybe they can’t have everything they imagined without any form of visual compromise,” said Dr. Dell. “It alters their expectations a little bit, making for a much simpler discussion.”
Do you really know your patients?
What steps do you take to better know your patients? Do you have your own, in-office questionnaire? How do you educate your patients about your procedures?