Benefits of international connection plain to see

Prof Anja Tuulonen, Westmead Head of Ophthalmology Andrew White, Singapore Eye Centre visiting fellow Philemon Huang, and Westmead Glaucoma fellow Rohan Gupta.

What can ophthalmology patients of Western Sydney benefit from the home of reindeer, ice hockey and the midnight sun?

Professor Anja Tuulonen from Tays Eye Centre, Finland, answered this question as she toured the Westmead Hospital ophthalmology department and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research last month.

The learning tour was a reciprocal visit, with Anja having welcomed Community Eye Care (C-EYE-C) service coordinator Belinda Ford in Finland last year.

Belinda visited Anja at the Tays Eye Centre in Finland last year as part of an international learning tour.

Belinda spent two weeks at the world-leading facility as part of an international study tour that also took her to England. The international connection presented the opportunity to exchange ideas and potentially improve patient care pathways.

“In Finland I was able to observe different collaborative care models, including virtual clinics, and bring some innovative ideas home to western Sydney,” Belinda said.

“Collaborative care is about making sure the right patients are seen at the right place in the right time by the right person.”

The learning tour gave Belinda the opportunity to witness first-hand some leading ophthalmology practices from around the world.

While the celebrated C-EYE-C model has focused on glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, Belinda said the trip encouraged her to think about how the model could be applied to cataract treatment.

She observed efficient cataract pathways in several hospitals and shared these with the Westmead Hospital Eye Clinic team, who intend to examine the screening process, operating room procedures and post-op treatment, with the ultimate aim of identifying areas where patient care could be improved.

Westmead Hospital is also continuing its commitment to international collaboration, with visiting fellows from Singapore and Kenya currently based in the ophthalmology department.

Belinda’s experience was made available as one of the recipients of the 2017-18 WSHLD Board Bursary.