By June, we had reached 75% of our pre-pandemic exam load, but we were still feeling the restrictions of social distancing and the limit that placed on the number of patients, techs, and doctors who could be in the clinic at once. When we instituted our one-room-one-patient policy, it became absolutely crucial for our diagnostic tests to be efficient and still provide valuable data. For a glaucoma workup, which requires visual field testing, this can be a challenge—unlike other diagnostics, a full visual field test is measured in minutes, not seconds. To make the final jump, we needed a technological boost.
In July, we upgraded the HFA3 with SITA Faster and dramatically reduced the time it took to get a visual field. With SITA Standard, which is what our practice used prior to July, it would take over five minutes per eye to complete the test. Now, the time is halved, which means chair time is reduced for each patient. Furthermore, the accuracy of SITA Faster is comparable to SITA Standard. SITA Faster is tracking the same defects and glaucoma progression for our long-term patients and taking less time to do so. In running the 24-2C, the test includes more central test points that correlate with points from the 10-2 that are most susceptible in glaucoma patients. This has been game-changing for both patients and technicians. The visual field test is one of the more intimidating tests for patients, in large part because of the amount of time it takes. Our technicians are also happier because they find that the newer algorithm is more intuitive for the patient requiring less time in coaching the patients through the visual field test. The decreased face to face time between the technician and patient also improves safety during this time of physical distancing.