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    Using technology, medical informatics in patient education

    Evolving patient communication is key to proper patient education


    Incorporating the practice of medical informatics and knowledge integration is essential to all aspects of modern healthcare delivery and is conducted through multidisciplinary research, development, and application.

    Medical informatics has taught us that electronic health records (EHR) need to make our lives easier—not more difficult. For example, a GPS navigation system is valuable when it tells us where to turn when driving, not when it tells us after the fact that we should have turned. Future EHRs should help guide our clinical decision-making. Additional information on medical informatics can be found on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hsrinfo/informatics.html).

    What does this mean for optometry and primary eye care?

    Evidence-based medicine can be implemented into patient education and treatment. If patients have access to reliable information in real time, they will be able to comprehend and comply with our directives.

    ODs should take advantage of these existing means of communication. EHRs and software systems will allow for optimal collaboration between ODs and other healthcare providers. Optometric innovations may alter the way in which the exam is conducted and how patient information is relayed.

    Medical technology information is designed to make our lives less complicated. Choosing technologies that are easy to update, maintain, and sync with other modalities or programs is fundamental to prudent purchasing decisions. When efficiently utilized, both EHR systems and automated optometric instruments can allow more time for patient education and discussion.

    Related: Upgrade your patients to new technology

    Internet answers

    Virtual and augmented reality offers new frontiers in patient education through demonstration and virtual simulation. The challenge for ODs in the future will be sorting through all of these options, and utilizing strategically those that will most effectively educate patients.

    Many patients today are receptive to computer simulations on screen to understand their refractive, binocular status, or ocular and medical conditions. Optical coherence tomography (OCT), retinal images, visual fields, corneal topography, and wavefront aberrometry are frequently shown to patients in order to describe conditions, explain treatment plans, and educate them about their ocular health.

    Proper comprehension and an informative demonstration actively engage patients in their individualized care. The doctor-patient interaction is the most vital aspect of any exam, leading to improved outcomes and patient retention.2 The American Optometric Association has a long history of educating patients, parents, and teachers about eye and vision care via its website (https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public?sso=y).

    Thomas A. Wong, OD
    Dr. Wong is a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry and a member of the AOA Ethics committee and ASCO Ethics SIG. He is a past ...
    Caroline Lee
    Caroline Lee is a student at SUNY College of Optometry, graduating in 2018.


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