David Probert, what will be important to professionals in the eye health and sight loss sectors in 2018?

Post date: 
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Moorfields CEO David Probert

After welcoming in the New Year, it’s often an automatic reaction for many of us to think about what the next 12 months will hold. Hannah Adams, editor of NB Online asked a number of key leaders in the eye health and sight loss sector what they think will be important for professionals in 2018.

David Probert, Chief Executive, Moorfields Eye Hospital

What developments do you think will be important to professionals in the eye health and sight loss sector in 2018?
One of the most important in my view will be how we use and appropriately skill the ophthalmic workforce to deal with the increasing demand on services. This includes developing and supporting new and innovative roles for nurses, optometrists and other allied health professionals. 
I think the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also likely to continue to develop across the care pathways of ophthalmology. I think 2018 will be an important year to start to determine what role AI may have in helping deliver ophthalmic care. Over the coming months we hope to announce the results of our research collaboration with DeepMind Health. This research explored how cutting edge technologies can help medical research into eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and sight loss as a result of diabetes. We hope this work will eventually help eye health professionals to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, so that patients can be treated as early as possible.
Finally, I think 2018 will see healthcare professionals increasingly developing the use of technology such as telemedicine in new and innovative ways to help deal with demand and the need for specialist opinion.
Do you have any professional New Year's resolutions for 2018?
This year, like most, I will focus on continuing to be more visible and listening more to our staff in the UK and the United Arab Emirates. It is the best way to assess the true risks and opportunities of an organisation and is also one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I am also committed to ensuring we continue to improve the way we involve patients in decision making.
What are your work priorities for 2018?
My list seems to grow year on year, so I am determined to focus on my top priorities this year. These include driving forward our education and training strategy and continuing to create a rich environment to develop tomorrow’s experts across all professional groups. 
I am also keen we continue to recruit and retain the best staff, which I believe will become more challenging in 2018.  
I remain very focused with our board and executive team on improving the experience our patients receive. This is partly around process design and the way we manage clinics, but it’s also about our physical environment. To that end, one of my major priorities during 2018 is to continue to progress our plans to build a new eye care, education and research centre in central London. 
In your view, what has been the biggest breakthrough in 2017?
This is a very exciting time for ophthalmology. The publication of the London Assembly’s ‘Eye Health’ report in December 2017 was a crucial development in 2017. Along with other reports, it helped raise awareness of the scale of sight loss and the demand for ophthalmic care. 
As we know, eye health is a growing issue in London, with an extra 194,000 Londoners predicted to have a sight-threatening eye condition and an extra 74,000 living with sight loss by 2030. I welcome the report, in particular its recommendation that the Mayor of London develop and implement a London eye health strategy, and look forward to working with the Mayor on the strategy.
How important do you feel Eye Clinic Liason Officers (ECLOs) are to patient care?
ECLOs are critical to patient care as they bridge the gap between clinical care and supporting patients outside of hospital. I can see their role continuing to grow into 2018 and beyond. I am incredibly proud of the work they do across our network and my inbox is regularly full of letters of praise for them from our patients and staff alike. 

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