An Ophthalmologist EMR Checklist: 4 Characteristics of the Ideal EMR (by Katie Matlack) Medical Market Analyst Katie Matlack has posted an excellent article to which I am linking from my site entitled An Ophthalmologist EMR Checklist: 4 Characteristics of the Ideal EMR that it reproduced below with full permision for more people to enjoy.

Ophthalmologists who are evaluating ophthalmology EMR systems will want a solution that can display and capture patient data in a way that supports the unique needs of their speciality. But what specific characteristics should an ophthalmologist look for in an EMR? I posed that question to four ophthalmologists and a practice manager. Here are their recommendations.

1. Handles Large Image Files Efficiently

Since ophthalmologists frequently work with high-resolution images of the eye, you’ll want the ability to quickly access and scroll through large image files. A range of options exist for accessing these files in a way that doesn’t slow down the rest of the system.

“Images take up a lot of space on the server, so my images are run off a second server,” said Dr. Dean Carlson of Eye Associates of Colorado Springs. Dr. Carlson uses a solution from SRS.

Dr. Valla Djafari of the Texas Retina Institute works out of multiple offices, and noted that his Web-based EMR system allows him to get on the wireless network of whatever office he’s working from to easily access the files he needs.

2. Connects to Devices Used to Measure Eyesight

Getting data into your EMR directly from your testing equipment, such as your visual field units and cameras, can save you from “having to go hunting and pecking all over” for that data, in the words of Dr. Byron Tabbut of Wheaton Eye Clinic. Saving time is essential for Dr. Tabbut’s practice, which has 130,000 patient visits a year.

“You should be able to integrate your digital media to the platform you’re using, so you can have all your information available from one source,” he said. Dr. Tabbut also noted that HL7 and Dicom are emerging as the standard formats to facilitate sharing of data and images, respectively, across systems.

Dr. Walter Harris of Rittenhouse Eye Associates–who is on the hunt for a system and has narrowed down his shortlist of 20 vendors to three semi-finalists–had a useful tip related to pricing for testing equipment integration:

“It’s worth the money for a system to be able to intersect with your testing equipment. But different companies will charge differently for this ability; one might offer an unlimited option, while others might charge you per piece of equipment.”

As such, Dr. Harris recommends asking each vendor about the pricing structure of the feature. He also suggested having a list of all your exam equipment in hand when you meet with vendors.

3. Allows Access to Key Patient Data and History

Having quick and easy access to key elements of a patient’s historical health information–particularly a patient’s historical intraocular pressure–enables ophthalmologists to make more informed treatment decisions on a case-by-case basis.

“Some EMRs can trend intraocular data for you, so you know what the safe levels are for each patient,” said Dr. Tabbut, who also uses an EMR from SRS.

Tracking how a patient’s eye health responded to medications is also useful for ophthalmologists. According to Frank Bellocchio, the Ophthalmic Technician with Dr. Harris, systems that display the average intraocular pressure of a patient together with historical medication data help you make diagnoses and develop treatment plans.

4. Has Long-Term Vendor Sustainability

Dr. Harris shared with me a key takeaway he obtained from a recent annual meeting of the Academy of Ophthalmology, where a German ophthalmologist had advised his U.S. peers about what to look for in an EMR. Germany began switching to EMRs about 10 years ago, and lessons learned from their experience are applicable to ophthalmologists in the United States today.

As Dr. Harris explains, “Ten years ago in Germany, there were 67 EMR vendors for ophthalmologists. Today, there are six. Half of the practices that bought an EMR had to buy one again, or twice.”

His advice: “Look for a company with a commitment to ophthalmology, not one that might close up a few years out.” He suggests looking for vendors with at least 10 years of ophthalmology experience, to find ones that would be the most knowledgeable and time-tested.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. One final suggestion: don’t settle. There are solutions out there that can help you provide better care, improve your patient load, and get home earlier. If you have comments or I’ve left something out, please feel free to share a comment in the space below. Thanks for reading!