Electronic Medical Records are intended to be a cornerstone of clinical productivity in the modern-day ophthalmology practice. Though EMR usage tripled from 2006 to 2016, their effect on clinical productivity is very much a work in progress. Despite the spike in adoption, 35% of respondents in a 2016 survey of 2000 ophthalmologists believed it was harder to provide quality care using an EMR (1). A major advancement in clinical productivity has been the ability to incorporate images into the patient’s medical record. EMR’s contain plenty of valuable text information but as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Some EMR manufacturers now offer management of images in a bundled solution, attempting to replace purpose-built specialty healthcare data management software. Although the concept sounds logical, there are several challenges too, including image management in your EMR.

1 – Images can slow down your EMR

Bogging down your EMR with images can affect page loading speed as you move through patient screens. Those extra precious seconds can impact productivity in a busy practice.

2 – EMR viewers are not purpose-built for aiding in diagnosis

Incompatibility between an EMR and a specialty can slow down operations and negatively affect production levels by up to 65% (2). This can be said about Image viewers as well. How helpful is a static OCT report if you still have to access the device manufacturer’s viewing software to sufficiently manipulate the data? An OCT report typically only shows 1 or 2 b-scans, whereas the instrument takes over 100, which can be interactively viewed in a more specialist ophthalmic image review software. Looking at an OCT report in the EMR only gives you a fraction of the available information. A purpose-built ophthalmology data management solution can truly provide all the image analysis tools you need in one viewer, saving time errors and frustration.

3 – Storing images in your EMR deepens your commitment

NEW: Are you 100% happy with your current EMR? Do you think you’ll ever switch to a different vendor? EMR companies are acquired or disbanded regularly. An estimated 30% of physicians are looking to replace their EMR by 2021 (3). Statistically, there is a significant chance you will find a reason to transition from one EMR to another. Storing images in your EMR complicates the “break-up” with your current vendor as the data then must be transferred to your new EMR. Keeping ophthalmic images in a separate healthcare image data management application can greatly reduce the strain on your resources during a transition.

4 – Limited device connectivity

Because EMR manufacturers’ core competency is managing patient demographic information and not device connections or complex data files, they can struggle to harvest images from older or more obscure equipment. Specialty PACS systems, some of which are built by device manufacturers themselves, bring years of expertise to device integration.

Choose an ophthalmological image management tool

Interoperability between your EMR and images can provide a more holistic view of the patient’s disease state and increase productivity. However, combining the two in a single software solution can pose unexpected and counterproductive challenges. Harvesting your images in a purpose-built ophthalmic data management system can keep your EMR nimble, centralize all of the patient demographic information, and enable you to compare and manipulate that data in a single viewer.

Ready to learn more about Topcon Harmony? 

Harmony is a secure and efficient browser-based Medical Device application that seamlessly integrates within your practice that streamlines your workflow by sending patient information directly to your devices. It supports connectivity to over 200 DICOM and non-DICOM devices, most of today’s manufacturers, and most of the current EMR and Practice Management systems. Harmony can exist as an on-premise or cloud-hosted application that sits at the center of your practice workflow, efficiently collecting and serving out diagnostic data in real time to any exam lane on a single screen. It will even allow users to view the same information from a remote location on a mobile tablet like an iPad. Schedule a demo to learn more and see what it means to be integrated, efficient, and mobile.


(1) https://ehrintelligence.com/news/ehr-adoption-rises-user-satisfaction-falls-for-ophthalmologists
(2) https://www.nextech.com/blog/ophthalmology-survey-names-top-4-reasons-for-emr-dissatisfaction
(3) https://ehrintelligence.com/news/30-of-practices-look-toward-ehr-replacement-options-by-2021