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American Academy of Ophthalmology Takes the Lead in Establishing Standards for Electronic Health Records

07/18/2011   09:33:43 AM

First-of-its-kind EHR checklist for ophthalmology supports meaningful use standards while enabling critical physician-to-physician communication and enhancing overall patient care.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) has taken a proactive role to ensure that electronic health records (EHR) will support quality patient care, enhance physician-to-physician communication, and meet the "meaningful use" standards required by healthcare reform policies. The Academy's Medical Information Technology Committee (MITC) has developed a list of the special requirements needed to make EHR systems as intuitive and efficient as possible for ophthalmology practices.

These key functions are summarized in Special Requirements for Electronic Health Records for Ophthalmology, a report now available in the journal Ophthalmology online and forthcoming in the Aug. 1 issue. The lead author is Michael F. Chiang, MD, from the Departments of Ophthalmology & Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University and the chairman of the Academy's Medical Information Technology Committee. The paper includes the list of 17 "essential" and six "desirable" features in the areas of Clinical Documentation, Ophthalmic Vital Signs and Laboratory Studies, Medical and Surgical Management, and Ophthalmic Measurement and Imaging Devices. The guidelines are intended to be used by ophthalmologists and their staffs to help identify important features when searching for EHR systems.

"Our recommendations define what will make a system work efficiently within the unique workflow and data management needs of an ophthalmology practice," Dr. Chiang said. "The Academy is also urging the adoption of common data standards to in order to optimize the delivery of time-critical patient information and enable physicians to provide the very best in patient care."

On July 6, the MITC hosted a webinar for representatives of 15 EHR companies to urge them to build in key functions identified in the journal article. Flora Lum, MD, deputy director of the H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., M.D. Center for Quality Eye Care, led the webinar.

The recommendations address how an EHR system should accommodate certain areas of ophthalmic practice, including:

  • Supporting documentation in and transitions between the office and operating room;
  • Capturing, tracking and displaying "vital signs of the eye," such as visual acuity; and
  • Incorporating hand-drawn sketches or annotations into records.

EHR companies will be asked to respond as to how their systems match up against the list of essential and desirable features. Information detailing the vendors' responses will be provided to Academy members in the future and the Academy will continue to work with the vendors to help them understand and evaluate the recommendations.

Eds: Full text of the study is available from the Academy's media relations department. 

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 30,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. Find an Eye M.D. in your area.

About the Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care
The H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., M.D. Center for Quality Eye Care is an evidence-based nonprofit quality-of-care and health policy research center located in San Francisco. The Hoskins Center conducts and supports clinical studies, develops patient care guidelines, establishes national data registries, and collects and analyzes data from clinical practices to improve decision making and public health policies, evaluate the value of eye care services and provide physician education to enhance access and appropriateness of eye care for the public. More information can be found at www.hoskinscenter.org.

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