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As of April 2013 the Centre for Eye Health, which provide free advanced imaging and diagnostic services to patients of NSW/ACT optometrists, will be the first organisation in the Australian optometry industry to issue patient reports including images electronically.
The Centre had been looking for a way to provide reports to optometrists electronically after many of their referrers requested electronic copies be sent of their patient’s report.
“Current legislation with respect to patient confidentiality and medical records mean that it is not legal to send a patient report via e-mail without de-identifying their details, even between an optometrist and a local ophthalmologist. As a result, it is not possible to email our reports as it is critical that the images are assigned to the correct patients.” said Michal Yapp, Chief staff optometrist and head of the electronic reporting project. “We have worked with Healthlink, Houston and Medinexus to customise an online infrastructure so that we can now send patient reports and images without the need to de-identify patient information. It also means reports are in a format that can work with both a hard copy and soft copy filing system at the optometrists end. What’s more, we send the reports instantaneously to speed up turnaround times by not relying on ‘snail mail’ as well as increasing the quality of the images received by the referrers by not relying on print media.” The Centre, which previously provided reports in a hard-copy format, will be transferring all reports to the electronic format.
The Centre will also be offering members of their LearningforVision CPD program an exclusive opportunity to partake in ‘virtual consults’, as of early May, 2013.
Virtual consults allow optometrists who have access to imaging equipment to send their patient’s images and clinical data to the Centre for interpretation. The details are sent via the same secure online set-up, again meaning there is no need to de-identify patient details. The case will then be interpreted by the Centre’s optometrists and when needed, ophthalmologists, before being sent back to the referring optometrist as an online report.
The virtual consult service comes as part of the online education website LearningforVision that was recently launched by CFEH to help spread their advanced imaging knowledge to optometrists Australia wide (their imaging and electronic reporting services are only available to those optometrists in NSW/ACT). The program features over 40 CPD points worth of education focusing on advanced imaging and early diagnosis of eye disease.
“Optometrist, who are the forefront of the early detection of eye disease, have the power to directly impact patient’s lives by accurately and prematurely detecting eye disease. They are the ones on the doorstop who can prevent vision loss. It’s our responsibility to share with them the knowledge we have so that they can better do their job” - Michael Kalloniatis, Centre Director.