Do optometrists use technology? Reasons ODs should embrace new technologies in eye care.

ODs sometimes find it difficult to adapt as technology advances. Learn why adopting new technologies may be critical to keeping one’s practice relevant in the twenty-first century.


The use of new technologies has become essential to optometric care as optometry has progressed into the realm of therapeutics. Some of these are wavefront aberrometry, optical coherence tomography (OCT), corneal topography, and fundus photography. ย  Privacy and data security are issues that ODs and other healthcare providers must address in the twenty-first century.


Apart from radiology, I’ve discovered that eyecare providers use medical imaging more than any other specialty.


Whether in private practice, academia, hospitals, referral centers, or an OD-MD practice, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and privacy concerns occupy a significant amount of time for ODs.


As technology progresses, many new diagnostic and therapeutic devices make use of cloud-based storage systems. Optometrists ‘ professional responsibilities include maintaining patient privacy, preventing identity theft, and understanding data security.


Our challenge as ODs is to be vigilant while not allowing technology to rule our lives. Technology has the potential to improve patient care while also making our lives easier.


As an optometric educator, I am enthusiastic about utilizing technology to improve education for students, residents, and practicing optometrists. The shift to cloud-based medical data storage is being driven by rising costs and the exponential growth of data.


Modern optometry


ODs now being experienced in handling anterior and posterior segment eye disease, glaucoma, and other ocular disorders was one of the keys to optometry joining primary health care in the United States. Many ODs have heard Ron Melton, OD, FAAO, and Randall Thomas, OD, FAAO, present clinical cases highlighting the proper use of steroids, anti-infectives, and anti-glaucoma medications to treat patients and formulate evidence-based differential diagnoses at optometric continuing education conferences.ย 


ODs are naturally conservative. The optometric oath and the motto primum non-nocere (first, not harm) teach ODs that patient welfare comes first, and everything elseโ€”such as privacy and securityโ€”comes beside.


Critics will argue that if we do not keep patient information and data secure, we will be unable to prioritize patient care. ODs must not let privacy and security concerns keep them from implementing new technologies, such as cloud-based data storage.


Hybrid cloud storage


As the film was filled by digital technology, medical imaging storage moved from metal shelves in a plain room to servers. The ultimate goal is cloud storage of clinical images, but healthcare organizations have yet to fully adopt a cloud computing environment, instead opting for a hybrid cloud approach.


Organizations that do not want to entrust the storage of medical images to vendors have driven the development of hybrid cloud services. The development of hybrid cloud storage has resulted in a mix of private and public cloud services on-premises.


These hybrid configurations enable organizations to keep image storage on-site, such as vendor-neutral archives (VNAs), which provide standard, organized archives of healthcare data from various picture archiving and communication systems (PACS).


Problems with data storage


The increase in data like high-definition images and videoโ€”has mandated larger storage devices. There is now a diverse range of medical imaging data that must be stored and reliably accessed promptly. DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) content from a CT scanner or ultrasound machine, images captured with cellphones or digital cameras, and images captured with an endoscope are a few examples.


Some believe that local data storage poses less of a privacy and security risk because the data is in the user’s immediate possession rather than in a less tangible cloud storage location.


HIPAA required the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create regulations to protect the privacy and security of specific health information.ย  While adhering to all HIPAA and other privacy standards is a difficult task, it is required in today’s value-based healthcare system as part of establishing trust in the OD-patient relationship.ย 


Cloud-based EHR


A cloud-based EHR is a scalable, flexible, user-friendly, and cost-effective solution for storing patient health files in the cloud rather than on internal servers at a medical facility or practice.ย 


Administrators can use data mining capabilities to examine work processes for strengths and weaknesses, as well as delve into patient data to identify behavior patterns, potential drug interactions, and health risk factors.ย 

Most web-native solutions are now designed with input from medical providers, clinicians, and facility management teams, so customization features are more closely aligned with why doctors practice medicine and medical institutions provide in-patient care.


What are the Benefits of a Cloud-Based System?


Aside from lowering the costs of updating hardware and software every few years, there are other advantages to signing an agreement with a service provider.


  • Automatic compliance updates ensure that your organization always adheres to best practices.
  • Service providers are responsible for applying security patches, updating code sets, and renewing encryption certificates.
  • With cloud-based EHR solutions, scaling as the practice adds new physicians, increases the patient load, or adds new services is much easier, often requiring minimal training and in-house IT staff involvement.
  • While large group practices, in-patient treatment centers, and hospitals may require dedicated IT training and support teams, many small to mid-sized practices do not need to invest heavily in building an internal technology department because reputable vendors provide 24/7 support and intensive system training.
  • Drug libraries and user-friendly decision-support tools aid in the prevention of avoidable medical errors.


The Future of Cloud Storage


Many medical information technologies and privacy experts believe that cloud-based EHR storage provides superior data security and organization.


ODs require data storage options that allow for improved and integrated access to relevant patient information in optometry schools, clinics, and private practices in optometry schools, clinics, and private practices.


As the film was replaced by digital technology, medical imaging storage moved from metal shelves in a plain room to servers. The ultimate goal is cloud storage of clinical images, but healthcare organizations have yet to fully adopt a cloud computing environment, instead opting for a hybrid cloud approach.


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