Report: Ophthalmological specialists require suitable EHR’s

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A whitepaper that was recently issued by the Medical Information Technology Committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that specialist healthcare providers need electronic health record (EHR) systems that are designed specifically for their areas of care, and outlines suggestions of how medical informatics companies can implement such changes.

The paper’s principle author, Michael F. Chiang, MD, from the Departments of Ophthalmology and Medical Informatics as well as Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health and Science University, lists 17 essential criteria and six desirable factors that could improve both the efficiency and quality of patient care.

The guidelines are intended to give eye doctors and their support staff a common baseline that indicates an EHR’s suitability to an opthalmological practice when selecting and implementing healthcare IT systems.

The criteria detailed in the report focus on ophthalmology across several areas, such as medical and surgical management, ophthalmic measurement and imaging devices, clinical documentation and ophthalmic vital signs, and laboratory studies.

“Our recommendations define what will make a system work efficiently within the unique workflow and data management needs of an ophthalmology practice,” said Dr. Chiang.

Specialists face several potential difficulties when using EHR systems that are intended for more generalized primary care environments, according to Information Week. For example, ophthalmologists use patient data that is specific to the eyes, such as intraocular pressure readings and measurements of visual acuity that are not included in many EHR systems.

The paper further states that traditional mouse-based input used by many EHR systems is ineffectual at capturing specialist medical information such as anatomical diagrams necessary for ophthalmological evaluation.

The news outlet further reports that the size of EHR manufacturers that cater to specialist healthcare providers may be an obstacle to demonstrating meaningful use compliance, as upgrading EHR systems to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 diagnostic code bases has proven difficult.