Spotlight on Technology & Technique
Image Management Boosts Efficiency
By Samantha Stahl, Assistant Editor
With the crucial need to see more patients in less time, every second counts in an ophthalmologist's jam-packed schedule. Image management systems help to get more patients through the door without compromising quality of care, by eliminating time spent shuffling through paper files and photos.
“Ophthalmologists have so many different diagnostic devices—OCTs, field analyzers and many more,” says Michael Jacobs, MD, of Athens, Ga., who recently added the Forum data management package from Carl Zeiss Meditec to his practice. “Prior to Forum, we had to print out multiple reports to show patients. It was time consuming and not an ideal way to look at information.” Forum has saved him time and allowed him to do a better job with his patients. For example, with conditions like CME, DME or AMD, he appreciates the ability to easily look at the response to treatment over time. “Simultaneously looking at before and after photos just simplifies and facilitates the process.”
One feature Dr. Jacobs hopes to see in the future is the ability to make custom templates. “I may want to have a template that allows me to look at glaucoma in several ways, and another template for macular disease. Another doctor in my practice may want to have different templates for diabetes, which could vary from mine. With one simple click, I'd be able to view a layout of information that is most conducive to my style of analysis.”
New features will be unveiled at the ASCRS meeting in March, says Michael Elrod, Zeiss's marketing manager of informatics, including the ability to provide better communication with EMR systems. Forum 2.6 will begin supporting terminal server environments—“a big deal for larger institutions,” he says.
Compatible with almost any ophthalmic device on the market, Forum is built on the DICOM standard and can store both PDFs and raw data, unlike many other image and data management systems. One unique feature is the ability to make a modality work list for scheduling exams, to minimize bottlenecks around heavily used equipment. Once patients have checked in, their data is entered into Forum, ready to be viewed by the technician.
“Technicians don't have to re-enter the patient's information, so it streamlines the process,” says Mr. Elrod. “They can click a button to bring up the patient, do the exam, and click another button to send the data to Forum for the doctor to review.” He says this feature ensures that the patient's information is correct, improving clinical accuracy.
Forum, which Mr. Elrod says is more competitively priced than most other image management systems, comes with up to three days of set-up and training. “We want to help practices go from paper to paperless and reduce the overall learning curve,” he says.
Forum's new Combined Report integrates visual fields with OCT.
Subjective, Objective Worlds Unite
Zeiss recently released a new Forum feature, the Glaucoma Combined Report, that presents OCT and visual field data in one snapshot. Compatible with Zeiss's Humphrey Field Analyzer and Cirrus HD-OCT, the report is the first integration of its kind on the market. It includes data for both eyes' visual function, RNFL and optic nerve analysis.
“With glaucoma, we like to look at changes over time. On paper, you can flip back and forth through charts,” says Dr. Jacobs. “Now, I'm able to view serial visual fields and OCTs at the same time—the way we're supposed to analyze glaucoma, not by flipping back and forth on paper.”
Dr. Jacobs says both the quality of information and quality of care is improved by Forum's capabilities. In a time-crunched practice, it's tempting to cut corners and rush an exam. “Some doctors don't spend enough time with glaucoma patients. They scribble some notes and they're skipping in-between steps to skim over information. With Forum, you can pull up all these studies and look at a lot more information. You can do more in a short amount of time.” OM
For more information, visit www.meditec.zeiss.com/forum.