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Buyer's Guide

by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 18, 2017

What Is Ophthalmology Software?

In addition to generic features like E&M coding advice, e-prescribing, document scanning/imaging and clinical reminders, the top electronic medical record (EMR)/electronic health record (EHR) systems for ophthalmologists and optometrists will have specialized exam templates that automatically populate patient information and provide a reliable and efficient way to document patient encounters. These programs also integrate with diagnostics systems, and some include a point of sale (POS) system for the sale of glasses and contact lenses.

Common Features of Ophthalmology Software

Eye-care professional workflow management Workflows should be designed to meet the needs of the eye care specialties, taking patient and physician through booking the appointment, visual field examination and other testing, diagnosis, ordering of corrective lenses and follow-up visit reminders.
Ophthalmology and/or optometry templates Specialty EMRs have SOAP notes templates specifically designed for a particular kind of medical practice. An optometry EMR will include templates for eye examinations, blurred or lost vision, ectropion or entropion, lens evaluation, conjunctivitis, corrective laser procedures, ocular surgeries, corneal conditions and many more.
Detailed eye graphics Dozens of diagrams in the software allow the physician to graphically document ocular occlusions or other problems.
Vision testing device integration Integrate your practice’s autorefractor, keratometer, autorefractor and other devices, populating the workflow template instantly and supporting diagnosis.
Prescription & coding assistance By integrating the devices and the results into the software, the EMR can recommend prescriptions and ICD-9/CPT codes, reducing the chances of undercoding or underprescribing diagnoses, lenses or other treatments.
Point of sale system One of the things that separates optometrists and many ophthalmologists from other medical specialties is the associated retail sales. Most optometry and ophthalmology EMRs offer a point of sale (POS) system, expediting the sale and inventory management of glasses and contact lenses.

Key Considerations for Ophthalmology Software

When you start the process of checking out potential ophthalmology EMR solutions, you should detail all your requirements and categorize them based on their importance. Nice-to-have features, such as accounting, can come at the very end. Therefore, the solutions you’re considering should address all your crucial needs first.

Below are some of the parameters that will help you identify the best solution:

Choose the ideal deployment model: The two common types of system architecture are on-premise and cloud-based. On-premise deployment involves installing the solutions on servers that are housed in your building. While this model is compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and gives complete control over data to users, it can be tiresome and expensive to maintain and upgrade the hardware over time. On the other hand, cloud gives users the flexibility of anytime, anywhere access but the internet connection needs to be fast and steady all the time. Only then will practices be able to work smoothly, else delays in connection will disrupt the business.

Suit the solution to your practice size: Not all practices have the same requirements as the number of staff and patients differ. Therefore, some solutions are better suited to smaller practices, while others are better for larger ones. Despite the number of ophthalmologists currently in service, ensure that the solution offers you the scope of scaling up as your business grows.

Offers ophthalmology-specific features: Most generic EMR systems do not have ophthalmology-specific patient charts and forms. Therefore, practices need specialized ophthalmology EMR software that offer the relevant features. Some of these features are ophthalmology ICD/CPT codes; integration with visual field machines, autorefractors, keratometers and other ophthalmic tools; POSs to help in the sale of eyeglasses and contact lenses; compatibility with digital pen technology; capability to track patient’s contact lenses details and inclusion of graphical diagrams to document various eye problems.

Hence, as an ophthalmology EMR software buyer, you must find out if all your requirements are met.

Market Trends to Understand

The ophthalmology EMR software market is a niche that is gradually being filled by newer and advanced solutions. Adoption of these solutions is also expected to rise further as more and more practices move away from generic solutions that don’t serve all their needs. According to a survey by American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 52 percent of its members who use EMR solutions said that their patient numbers saw a positive or neutral impact.

Listed here are some market trends in the ophthalmology EMR software field:

Introduction of in-office electrophysiology device: These days, in-office electrophysiology devices simplify the complicated battery of tests that previously used to be conducted at academic centers. The device captures exclusive visual evoked potential (VEP) and electroretinogram (ERG) tests that are easy for physicians to understand and simple for the patient to undertake.

High-quality retinal imaging: Many devices now enable ophthalmology practitioners to take high-resolution photos and scans of the posterior segment. These non-invasive technology-based devices are significantly changing the manner in which retinal angiography is being performed currently; practitioners no longer require the dyes and needles that were needed for traditional angiography tests.

Combination of diagnostic and surgical devices: The integration of diagnostic and surgical devices into fully integrated systems is on the rise. Such systems have the ability to share information and streamline the overall surgical process, especially in the field of cataract surgery.

Anterior segment analysis: Unique ray-tracing machines are becoming popular in the ophthalmology market. These machines bring together the processes of aberrometry (i.e., measurement of the way a wave-front of light passes through the cornea and the crystalline lens) and topography (i.e., arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area) to analyze the refractive parameters of the entire eye, including lens and cornea.

These devices measure various important parameters, such as the quality of vision, visual function, dysfunctional lens index, visual function, angle alpha, accommodation, keratometry (a diagnostic instrument for measuring the curvature of the anterior surface of the cornea), pupillometry (measurement of pupil diameter), ray tracing aberrometry, corneal topography and refraction.

The above trends cover only a small part of the larger market but they’ll be helpful in making you aware about the latest developments in the ophthalmology EMR market. They’ll also help guide you in selecting the ideal solution from a plethora of options.

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