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When the ophthalmology department at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, was looking for an image management system that could integrate with the existing electronic medical record system, four vendors were invited to showcase their products to the selection committee.
The system went live in August 2009, following a 2-month install and beta-testing process, and physician experience in daily practice has been very positive, according to Szilárd Kiss, MD.
"The [system] is a user-friendly, fully HIPAA-compliant system that was able to integrate seamlessly with our EMR and our 12 different imaging modalities," said Dr. Kiss, who is assistant professor of ophthalmology and director of clinical research, Weill Cornell Medical College, and has served as the physician liaison and the leader of the image management system selection committee. His primary role was to ensure that the chosen product would meet clinical needs of all subspecialists within the practice.
He said it was important to integrate a variety of modalities-from visual fields to fluorescein angiography to external color photos-into one comprehensive paperless system.
Compatibility with an existing or future EMR is one of the foremost issues to consider when selecting an image management system, he added. The Symphony is compatible with EPIC and EMRs from a large number of other vendors. In addition, the fact that OIS is not a part of the ophthalmic imaging industry also weighed in favor of choosing the system.
"I was fearful that a system from a company with a proprietary interest in imaging equipment would offer limited functional capabilities for reviewing and manipulating images acquired using devices from a competing manufacturer," he said.
A paperless environment
Once a patient's identifier data are entered into the EMR, the information is passed automatically through to the image management system and attached to whatever diagnostic images are added into the system database. The latter are imported automatically from their native device without any need for user input and at full resolution.
"Now that the EMR and image management system are fully integrated, we are essentially paperless," Dr. Kiss said.
Access to the image management system is gained by clicking on a button that appears on the patient's main EMR page. The button opens a secondary window on the web-based system through which images and diagnostic reports are accessed. The images and diagnostic reports are stored separately from the EMR on a central server. Maintaining separate image and EMR databases allows each to operate at maximum speed.