The state of optometry: Better business through technology

Each week, AOA News is offering a new entry in a series based on "The State of the Optometric Profession: 2013." This report and summit from Optometry's Meeting® 2013 included analysis on key industry influencers.

In the series' final entry: the state of technology in the profession.

"The future of health IT is the cloud."

Trends in technology

New and emerging technologies will expand and enhance diagnostic, management and communications capabilities for optometrists.

For example, in 2012, 49 percent of ODs reported using electronic health records (EHRs), and an additional 18 percent said they planned to add an EHR system during the year, according to the report. During that same time, 26 percent of pharmaceuticals prescribed by optometrists were written as e-prescriptions.

Paul E. McRae, of AT&T Business Solutions, noted the new trend of cloud-based EHR systems. These are essential to connect with registries, health care providers and third-party payers. AT&T is a partner of AOAExcelTM and its health information technology connectivity solution.

"It's imperative that you embrace the technology," McRae said. "With AOAExcelTM, the AOA is giving you a path to success."

Barry J. Barresi, O.D., Ph.D., the AOA's executive director and AOAExcelTM CEO, echoed that emphasis. "What we're providing is a community," he said. "The future of health IT is the cloud."

How to improve technology use

The report offered two strategies to improve practices through technology:

  • Adopt EHRs and health IT. This is especially important as revenue sources shift to include more government and large insurers. In fact, EHRs and a full suite of health IT solutions will be mandatory for practices, the report noted.
  • Expand digital communication with patients. Expansion can include everything from upgrading practice websites to using e-mail services to stay in touch with patients between appointments.

Read Part 1: Our place in the market.

Read Part 2: 3 tips to increase demand and revenue.

Read Part 3: Expanding scope of practice.

Read Part 4: 3 tips for shifting payment sources.

September 20, 2013

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