AAO details EHR requirements

July 27, 2011

In an effort to assist ophthalmologists in the market for an electronic health record (EHR) system as well as the vendors who make such systems, the Medical Information Technology Committee (MITC) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has developed a list of features that ophthalmology practices need from EHR systems to deliver quality patient care, enhance physician-to-physician communication, and meet the ?meaningful use? standards required by health care reform policies.

San Francisco-In an effort to assist ophthalmologists in the market for an electronic health record (EHR) system as well as the vendors who make such systems, the Medical Information Technology Committee (MITC) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has developed a list of features that ophthalmology practices need from EHR systems to deliver quality patient care, enhance physician-to-physician communication, and meet the “meaningful use” standards required by health care reform policies.

The list is available in the committee’s “Special Requirements for Electronic Health Records for Ophthalmology” report, available at www.ophsource.org/periodicals/ophtha/article/S0161-6420(11)00374-5/abstract; it also will be available in the Aug. 1 issue of Ophthalmology.

“Our recommendations define what will make a system work efficiently within the unique workflow and data management needs of an ophthalmology practice,” said Michael F. Chiang, MD, chairman of the MITC, lead author of the report, and a member of the ophthalmology and medical informatics and clinical epidemiology departments at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.

The paper includes the list of 17 “essential” and 6 “desirable” features in the areas of clinical documentation, ophthalmic vital signs and laboratory studies, medical and surgical management, and ophthalmic measurement and imaging devices. Ophthalmologists and their staffs can use the guidelines to help evaluate EHR systems they are considering purchasing.

In a Web seminar earlier this month, the MITC urged 15 EHR companies to build into their systems the key functions identified in the journal article. The recommendations address how EHR systems should accommodate ophthalmic practices, including:

1. supporting documentation in and transitions between the office and operating room;
2. capturing, tracking, and displaying “vital signs of the eye,” such as visual acuity; and
3. incorporating hand-drawn sketches or annotations into records.

The MITC is asking EHR companies to indicate how their systems match up against its list of essential and desirable features. The AAO will provide the resulting information to its members and has pledged to continue to work with EHR vendors to help them understand and evaluate the committee’s recommendations.

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