As lead physician for Mercy Clinic Eye Care, Dr. Shachar Tauber is responsible for eye care of the entire hospital system – spread across four states.
“I have come to realize over time that I am truly a concierge for Mercy eye care professionals,” Tauber says.
Meeting regularly with other ophthalmologists and their staff allowed Tauber to develop strong and trusted relationships and ensure the eye center’s growth.
“We take great pride in the development of the Mercy Eye Foundation, which has taken in donations from our surgeons and co-workers, grateful patients and educational grants from the medical industry,” Tauber says. “These funds help support efforts to improve the quality of the lives of the less fortunate and allow for the continuing education of our staff.”
As part of his Mercy legacy, Tauber led surgeons through a complete rebuild of the system’s eye care delivery, especially its cataract surgery.
“The naysayers who dismissed me as unrealistic or too idealistic concluded that our Femtosecond Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery program did indeed deliver better care for all, while being financially responsible,” Tauber says.
The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery was impressed, too. It awarded the program Best Paper of Session at its annual meetings in 2015 and 2016.
“Physicians and their staff from around the world have visited our surgery center to learn more about the program,” Tauber says.
Tauber also has created better health care for patients living with the systemic disease, diabetes.
“Visual disability, including blindness, may occur when proper eye care is not made available in a timely manner,” he says. “Nationally, only a half of patients with diabetes are aware that they suffer from the disease and of that group, only 50 percent will have adequate eye examinations.”
Mercy, like many health care systems, Tauber adds, struggled to provide eye care to its diabetic patients.
“With guidance from the federal Medicare program I was tasked with my partners to improve access to ophthalmic diagnostics, so that those with eye disease would receive prompt treatment,” he says.
After working with several technology vendors, Tauber and his team were able to use nondilating retinal cameras to increase access for their diabetic patients by 50 percent.
“The [typical] eye exam is not easy for the patient requiring multiple eye drops to dilate the eye, often requiring a second person to drive the patient to the doctor’s office,” Tauber explains.
Much more simply, patients attended their primary care physician’s office where a photo would be taken without dilation. Tauber’s team could then review the images and determine the next steps for the patients’ eyes.
“What had taken hours was done in minutes, and we were able to show Medicare that we lowered cost and improved access,” he says. “When I consult a patient who is understandably concerned about loss of vision, it is with great pride that I introduce them to the beautiful orchestra called the Mercy Eye Center.”
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