Directly Integrating Diagnostic Instruments With EMR

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When implementing EMR, accuracy and efficiency are improved, in part from the ability to integrate diagnostic instruments. By having your lensometer, autorefractor, keratometer and/or other devices automatically transfer information directly into your patient’s electronic record, not only do you save inputting time, but you also eliminate human error.

There are extensive examples of EMR systems integrating with diagnostic instruments. For example, Vmax recently introduced a new interface that allows MaximEyes users to launch a PSF refraction exam directly from the program. There are plenty more. For those software companies listed on the EHRcompare.com website (see sidebar), which offers side-by-side comparisons of available software, a quick glance at the profile for each program indicates which equipment manufacturer that software partners with.

 
 Through cloud-based integration, RevolutionEHR collects data directly from Marco refractive equipment.
However, experts advise users to beware. While human error may be eliminated, in some cases there is still the potential for mistakes resulting from miscommunication between the device and the software. For example, Parker of Drs. Robinson & Parker, said, “A lot of people tell me that instrument integration doesn’t always work the way you think.” He explained that sometimes incorrect formatting can result in errors. He cited one instance when a plano prescription transferred incorrectly into the patient’s record simply due to a formatting error. This could result in the ECP spending more time manually re-entering the correct information. “When the formatting is not correct, the hardware company blames the EMR company, the EMR company blames the hardware company and the doc is stuck in the middle,” he said.

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is emerging as a standard protocol for diagnostic instruments to communicate with EMR. “Some EMR are and some are not DICOM compatible. Some devices are DICOM capable and some are not,” said Chris Moore, CEO, Integrity EMR. “You really want a system that can be flexible with integrating diagnostic devices, whether DICOM or not.”

“The complete electronic experience works best when everything comes together, such as OfficeMate or AcuityLogic for practice management and our electronic health record solution, ExamWriter,” said Steve Baker, president, Eyefinity, whose ExamWriter program integrates with diagnostic equipment.

Some device manufacturers are being proactive about communicating with EMR systems. For example, to help improve connectivity between diagnostic instruments and software programs, equipment manufacturer Topcon has introduced its EMR Portal at emr.topconmedical.com. It allows EMR vendors to download connectivity information for all of Topcon’s devices and software, enabling EMR software developers to quickly access the latest communication data and track the integration for each device or software system.

One glitch software developers and diagnostic instrument manufacturers are currently addressing and beginning to offer solutions for is the way in which diagnostic equipment can integrate with EMR via the cloud. For example, software developer RevolutionEHR recently introduced an interface that enables Marco diagnostic equipment to communicate with its software over the cloud.