• Why Big Data and the IRIS Registry is Important for YOs

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    The exponential growth of health data registries points to how big data can help patients and providers in many, possibly even unforeseen, ways.

    But if you’re new to registries, you may wonder, “What can it do for me?”

    Registries offer young ophthalmologists a peek inside the actions of their peers nationwide.  You can observe diagnostic patterns along with treatment choices and successes and used them to develop new and better practices more quickly. With these goals in mind, the American Academy of Ophthalmology launched its IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight) as a clinical data registry in 2014.

    The IRIS Registry Explained

    The IRIS Registry is the nation's first comprehensive eye disease clinical registry that includes data from about 18,000 participating physicians and more than 52 million different patients. With data on more than 225 million patient visits, it’s the world’s largest specialty clinical data registry.

    By using the clinical information from Academy members’ medical records, the registry helps physicians measure patient outcomes, evaluate their care and benchmark their own performance to that of their peers and to national averages, and it’s free!

    Benefits of IRIS Registry Participation

    A key bonus of participating in the registry is that it simplifies the work needed to participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ MIPS payment program, which evaluates physicians based on four categories of performance.

    If you’ve never heard of CMS' Merit-Based Incentive Payment System before or are overwhelmed by reporting, the IRIS Registry can be a game-changer.

    • Cost savings from MIPS Reporting

    About one in five physicians in small or solo practices were subject to a 4 percent penalty for the 2017 MIPS performance year, according to CMS. However, none of the  ophthalmologists reporting 2017 MIPS through the IRIS Registry were penalized. The Academy estimates that it can save the average ophthalmologist an estimated $20,086 in penalties from 2018 MIPS Reporting.

    • Improving Quality

    As a young ophthalmologist, you may practice at a hospital or a group that does not participate in MIPS, the IRIS Registry is still of interest: It is the only registry that provides the ability for ophthalmologists to evaluate their performance on 28 subspecialty quality metrics in eye care. IRIS Registry also provides the most comprehensive benchmarking data, since a vast majority of ophthalmologists participate in the registry.

    The registry drives improvements in quality and outcomes by uncovering gaps in care and allowing physicians to identify areas for improvement. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Ophthalmology®, found that quality performance rates have increased over three years across IRIS Registry participants.

    • Research and the IRIS Registry

    Analyses on the IRIS Registry’s aggregate data can be used for scientific studies. The Academy has several study opportunities for interested clinicians – including young ophthalmologists – to submit proposals to access the IRIS Registry data for scientific analysis. So far, 11 papers have been published using IRIS Registry data, with many more expected.

    Data from the IRIS Registry can improve our understanding of patient populations, provide insight into disease progression, treatment options and outcomes. Because of its breadth and size, the IRIS Registry’s data can provide a means to study rare diseases that were previously impossible. Some opportunities available to access the IRIS Registry for research require the investigator to practice at an institution that participates in the registry.

    • Simplifying Data for MOC Requirements

    The registry can be also be used to help physicians meet requirements for the American Board of Ophthalmology Maintenance of Certification process. Physicians can use data the registry provides to design an improvement project and use monthly reports rather than chart review to identify an improvement area, set specific goals for a measure, outline the steps to achieve these goals and evaluate their success.

    How Do I implement it in My Practice?

    You don’t need a substantial support staff to implement the IRIS Registry. Many solo practitioners use the IRIS Registry. The data is collected from registered practices that have electronic health record (EHR) systems automatically, so no data entry is required. The registry can work with any EHR system. IRIS Registry currently receives data from more than 50 different systems, including EPIC.

    You do not need an electronic health record system to use IRIS Registry to report for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Practices without EHRs also have access and can participate in the IRIS Registry by entering data manually into the registry.

    As an Academy member, you have access to the IRIS Registry as a free member benefit for all U.S.-based physicians. If your practice is not already registered, start by signing up on the Academy’s website at aao.org/iris-registry. There you’ll find a user guide, resources and contacts and a list of key deadlines. If you have more questions, you can contact the IRIS registry at irisregistry@aao.org.

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    About the author: Rebecca Hancock is the Academy's director of the IRIS Registry.