Technology has always played a vital role in the delivery of health care. For generations, new tools have been developed that have continuously and significantly enhanced health care providers’ abilities to diagnose and treat conditions. These developments, in turn, have vastly improved both the experiences and the outcomes for patients.
While the importance of technology in providing quality health care is indisputable, the practical implementation of new technologies into health care delivery is rarely easy. In fact, it’s a process that can often be fraught with fear and difficulty. For an educational institution like SUNY Optometry, there is also the additional challenge of trying to preparing doctors for practice in an unknowable future where the only certainly is that future doctors will need to be able to embrace new technologies and practices—whatever they may be—in order to care for their patients.
This is no simple task but Dr. Thomas A. Wong, SUNY Optometry’s director of the new technologies, is up for the challenge.
“We’re at a time in our history when new innovations in health care are growing exponentially and it is the obligation of every optometrist to stay current in order to do what’s best for their patients,” Dr. Wong said.
In this role, Dr. Wong will manage what is known as “The Practice of Today,” a unit within the College’s University Eye Center.
“My vision is to engage patients, students and residents as well as faculty members in creating a model unit for eye care delivery,” Dr. Wong said. “We are looking to set new standards in patient care, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”
“The Practice of Today” will begin by analyzing current examination and testing sequences which will allow the new unit to work toward understanding how best to redesign future eye exam processes and how to optimally utilize new and emerging technologies. This will involve gathering data from student interns, faculty and patients, as well as creating discussion and focus groups. “We want all of our constituents to play an active role in this process,” Dr. Wong said.
The ultimate focus of the College’s new technology unit is to provide the best possible care for patients and to prepare students and residents to deliver that care. “Many emerging technologies are inevitable,” Dr. Wong said. “But often we are not prepared for them to happen. This new unit is designed to help us all become better prepared for new innovations as they develop.”
By exposing students to new technologies as well as new strategies for care delivery, Dr. Wong hopes that the new unit will help them succeed down the road. “I strongly believe that one way to develop good clinical thinking in our students is to take them out of their comfort zone and introduce them to new techniques and new technologies,” he said.