Dr. Whitney Hauser welcomed Douglas K. Devries, OD, to the Dry Eye Coach Podcast, where he offered some very practical tips for bringing intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy into an optometric practice.
Implementing IPL in Your OD Practice
Douglas K. Devries, OD
Managing Partner, Eye Care Associates of Nevada
I’m thrilled to see peers’ surging interest in intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy because I think IPL is tailor-made for optometry. IPL allows us to manipulate non-coherent light to safely get to the root of the dry eye disease process – a goal we’ve been chasing for years. Because we all know that implementing a new technology requires more than just buying a machine, I’d like to share some advice:
- Talk to peers. Talk to optometrists you trust who have implemented IPL in clinical practice. You’ll hear all about the clinical benefits, the financial picture, and the practicalities of implementation.
- Choose a device carefully. In my search for an IPL system, safety was first. I also wanted the sophistication of preset algorithms. I chose the Lumenis Optima IPL, which has a very consistent and controlled energy delivery system initiated from an algorithm. It also has small tip options that work well around the eyes.
- Get an in-practice demo. A demonstration in my practice solidified the purchase for me. I could see how it would work on many levels, including space and my dialogue with patients. From the start of peer conversations and the demo, it was about 5 months before I bought an IPL device.
- Plan your discussion with patients. I wanted to have the foundation of my IPL discussion ready in advance. I explain that there’s a mechanical treatment called IPL. It was used for many years in dermatology, where doctors discovered that it improved meibomian gland health and thus dry eye. I recommend four sessions of IPL to photocoagulate the vessels, followed by thermal pulsation (LipiFlow, Johnson & Johnson Vision). I began having this discussion with pateints before our in-practice demo, so I had about 12 patients ready for treatment under the supervision of the mentor.
- Look at the numbers. Combined with the ready acceptance of IPL treatment itself, our approach has doubled our volume of thermal pulsation treatments. The equipment paid for itself within 4 months.
- Plan the space. In my practice, we have a dry eye procedure room where we do thermal pulsation, and IPL fits in nicely. If you don’t have a dedicated space, the IPL device can go behind the stand in an exam room and be moved a few feet for treatment.
- Bring staff up to speed. I recommend doing IPL on any staff members who are candidates. They get to find out firsthand what it’s like to go through the procedure, and then they share the experience. In our dry eye-focused practice, it also helps tremendously to have a dry eye coordinator who takes ownership of new projects. Two and a half years after implementation, my staff presents a very consistent message about IPL and how patients should prepare for procedure days.
When I implemented IPL in my practice, I found that patients readily accepted it, so I was able to treat many people right away and get very comfortable using the technology. Several years later, we see some outside referrals for IPL, but we still generate an abundance of candidates from within the practice.