>> The Need For Interoperability In Optometry?
There are around tens of thousands of optometrists in the US who many patients visit every day. Eye problems are some of the most common issues people face when seeking medical help. Optometry is ranked in America's top 20 best-paying medical jobs for a promising future and the top 10 best medical jobs for women. However, the optometry sector has been slow to implement the current trends and government regulations regarding interoperability. As the pandemic changes how medical professionals and patients engage, the growing need for interoperability in all medical fields is undeniable.
What is Optometry?
Optometry is the field of medicine that deals with eye disease, measuring eyesight, and prescribing glasses. A 2018 study estimated that around 2.5 billion people need eyesight aid. That means a large majority of the population visits optometrists, and since eyesight prescriptions or diagnoses often change, there is a lot of healthcare data related to the patient. There are over 17 million visits to optometrists every year in the US alone.
Use of Interoperability in Optometry
Since optometrists find themselves dealing with heavy traffic of patients, there is a need for better data management, medical record-keeping, and communication between doctor and patient. That can be achieved through modern interoperability standards that ensure better optometric healthcare provisions for all.
Some opportunities that interoperability offers to optometric medical practice are:
Better Healthcare Data Exchange
People tend to move around for work and housing and can often change the doctor they go to, especially for constantly changing issues like eyesight. Optometric data of patients are often scattered and can be hard to communicate between patient and doctor. Interoperability removes the barriers to communication by making the medical practice more transparent while improving the doctor's access to healthcare data.
Data Is Secured, Stored, and Easy to Modify
Optometrists are fond of prescriptions and notes for healthcare data as it is a fast and efficient way to do so. It's easy to scatter or mismanage data. A person with bad eyesight can have worse vision after a head injury. Both files should be present in chronological order. Interoperability helps make data easy to store and update.
Timely Communication Between Service Providers
Sometimes, optometrists need to consult other doctors or healthcare professionals the patient has been in contact with. Especially if it regards changes or updates in the medical files, interoperability provides a proper channel through effective and timely communication without data transfer or readability issues.
Increased Efficiency of Remote Services
The online consultancy has become very common, significantly since the pandemic changes how patients and doctors interact. There is a good scope of remote healthcare services in optometry regarding issues in the eye and other injuries. Interoperability ensures that patients and doctors can easily exchange data through online means. The video/audio communication between the two is at a standard that aids in correctly diagnosing easy to identifying problems.
The Way Forward
Although the benefit of adopting interoperability into optometry is undeniable, there are still hurdles to implementation. Some of these hurdles include the reluctance of many optometrists to switch from using paper to computerized data entry. Since these offices are crowded, manual entry can be slow at first and would take some time to get used to. The healthcare providers in the optometric sector would need proper training on how to EHRS and interoperability software as well. Therefore, the reluctance of many service providers to join in will take time and effort to ease out and get them on board.
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