Today technology is intertwined with every facet of our lives and one truth shines through:  You must be able to “trust the data.”  In healthcare, that data is often complex.  And personal.  And can lead to errors or worse, losses.

What if your eye care practice could find a way to reduce the risks?

What if your practice was able to increase staff and physician production?

And what if you could increase patient satisfaction?

With today’s technology, now you can, and it all starts with trust—trust in the data.

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine

In the 1980s, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) joined the American College of Radiology (ACR) to develop a language for medical images and data to communicate together.  With this collaboration, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, or DICOM, was born.1 DICOM is considered the “international standard to transmit, store, retrieve, print, process, and display medical imaging information.”2

Leaders of the American Academy of Ophthalmology are participating in a work group with NEMA to set DICOM standards for eye care.  They are working to ensure that both vendors and users understand the significance of DICOM specifications for ophthalmology image management systems. Their short-term objective is to “increase the participation and implementation of vendors of DICOM standards in eye care.”3

DICOM Modality Worklists

DICOM is an important part of eye care data management systems.  Through its worklist technology, it brings the potential for a reduction in misspelled and inaccurate patient demographics, which translates into an increased opportunity to trust your data.  The DICOM eye care software joins patient information in a central application with worklists on individual pieces of eye care equipment.    Imagine the efficiency of entering patient demographics only once, then having that information populate where you need it, when you need it: at the instrument.

Manual entry of patient information is the largest reason for errors in demographics.  With the use of multiple diagnostic machines in eye care, not entering data manually is a true timesaver.  According to Jeffrey L. Marx, MD, Chair of Ophthalmology at the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, the DICOM workflow saves time and reduces risk by preventing name mismatches and patient identity confusion.4

For example, a patient is scheduled for an OCT.  Prior to the patient’s appointment, the demographic information is seamlessly transferred through DICOM to the OCT device.  This creates a “worklist” consisting of the patient’s name and date of birth.  When the patient arrives for the test, the technician verifies the patient’s name and DOB, then chooses the correct patient from the list connected to the device.  When the image is taken, the correct demographic information is embedded in the image with no additional data entry by the technician and transferred back to the EMR along with any essential reports.

DICOM Workflow Study of Error Reduction

Physicians at Johns Hopkins University were curious about applying DICOM’s worklist technology to the equipment workflow used in ophthalmic imaging systems.  They performed a study through the Wilmer Eye Institute to see if there was a measurable reduction in errors and misspellings when this workflow was used.  Their findings showed that editing or entering patient demographics by the imaging technician was reduced by 50%.  In addition, managing misfiled images was reduced by 85%.  They concluded that putting this workflow into practice should be considered an important step in today’s eye care data management systems. 5

By utilizing the DICOM workflow in eye care data management systems, efficiency is increased, and errors are reduced.  The worklist saves time for the technician, the patient feels at ease knowing the correct information was used, and the physician is confident that the images being reviewed really do belong to that patient.  The data can be trusted.  By everyone.



  5. Ravi Pandit, M.D., M.P.H., Michael Boland, M.D., Ph.D.; The impact on staff efficiency of implementing a DICOM-compatible workflow in an academic ophthalmology practice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):2317