Winner Announced of This Month’s “Ocular Photography Challenge”

Andrew W. Nahas, OD of Boscobel, Wisconsin, was announced as this month’s “Ocular Photography Challenge” winner for his photographs of an 11-year-old boy with Marfan syndrome. As the winner, Kowa Optimedwill award Dr. Nahas with Kowa’s new state of the art YF Binoculars for his excellent work.

As shown in the photographs, Nahas said the patient’s manifest refraction time in the right eye was -10.50 D -0.25 D x 180 with visual acuity of 20/40-2. In the left eye, the patient’s manifest refraction time was -8.50 D -2.00 D x 170 with a visual acuity of 20/25 +1.For more information regarding Kowa Optimed products, please visit: www.kowa-usa.com

For more information regarding the Ocular Photography Challenge by Primary Care Optometry News

please visit: www.PCONSuperSite.com. Submissions for the contest can be emailed to nhemphill@slackinc.com.


Eyecare Professionals Select Kowa Marketing Campaign Number 1 in Medical Device Category as conducted by Signet AdProbe Survey

In a recent survey done by Signet Research Inc. for Optometric Management, Kowa Optimed was honored by being recognized as having the best advertisement in their category and third place overall. The advertisement for the WX3D retinal camera by Kowa Optimed was the ad critiqued by the survey.

The purpose of the Signet AdProbe study was to provide those who purchased ad space in Optometric Management with feedback regarding the noticeability and information content of their advertisement. The report was based on the responses of 243 subjects questioned during the study. In order to reduce bias and respondent fatigue, a split sample technique was used and the sequence in which respondents viewed the ads was rotated. The desired end result of this survey is to help advertisers to better communicate with their audience through more effective advertising.

Of survey responses, 33% ranked Kowa’s ad’s noticeability as “excellent” and 47% responded to Kowa’s noticeability as “good.” Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed rated the ad’s information content as “excellent” and 56% rated the information content as “good.” The advertisement for Kowa’s WX3D was categorized overall as “excellent” by 33% of survey responders and “good” by 47%. Survey responders remarked about the advertisement with comments such as, “informative and pleasing to the eye” and “strong images, easy to understand.” The ad was mostly highlighted for its clear imaging and easy to read information. Another large portion of comments served to attest to Kowa’s quality and ease of use by those who are already familiar with their products.

Information regarding Kowa Optimed eyecare division visit: www.kowa-usa.com/eyecare.


Implementing The Newest Technology Around Customer Experience

The number of ECPs implementing technologies in order to create greater customer satisfaction as well as increase ocular health wellness and knowledge has vastly grown in recent years. People are demanding technology in every aspect of their day, now including their optical needs. Everything from iPads with informational videos to diagnostic systems that illustrate retinal images to text-reminder appointment confirmations are being utilized by today’s leading practices.

In this day and age it is hard to differentiate yourself from other ECPs with all the technology that is so readily available. Basing your practice around patient experience allows a practice to offer the same eye care services in an innovative way. ECPs are constantly looking for ways to further impress and please customers resulting in patient satisfaction as well as referral business. Educating patients has been deemed one of the more challenging tasks within eye care. Having to explain and demonstrate retinal issues in layman’s terms can become a tedious task. The application of videos and digital imaging to illustrate retinal tissue is more informative but also enhances patient image of the practice.

ECPs are using more advanced diagnostic instruments to provide patients with personalized perspective of their needs. Instruments such as aberrometers, retinal scanners and corneal topographers can capture and display highly detailed images of a patient’s eye thus enabling doctor’s to more accurately diagnose and treat any ailments. These images can then be used during patient-doctor dialogue to further understand the condition at hand and any possible treatments. This new software is freeing up precious time doctors do not have in order to better care for patients.

Mobile care is the next frontier in eye care. The number of eye care practices installing mobile systems is continually increasing. Seemingly basic services such as scheduling appointments and text-reminders for patients, electronic newsletters, event announcements and  question-and-answer forums for after business hours are creating a more patient friendly experience within optical care.

Doctors are not the only ones using technological advances in order to fulfill the consumer. Dispensing companies have also started to use advanced systems that take precise position-of-wear measurements and, when desired, additional biometric measurements guaranteeing optimal frame fit and maximal performance. These high tech systems were first embraced by independent eye care practices that were backed by major spectacle lens vendors however; optical retail chains have begun to introduce their own exclusive measurement systems. Most typically these systems analyze the relationship between a patient’s eyes, face and frame in order to create the optimal lens fit. Some software even includes a frame-and-lens system that minimizes lens stress thereby eliminating distortion.


Kowa Optimed Supports the Ocular Imaging Challenge

Kowa Optimed is encouraging submission for the upcoming Ocular Imaging Challenge hosted by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. According to the OIC homepage, this challenge calls innovators and software developers to “create an application that improves interoperability among office-based ophthalmic imaging devices, measurement devices, and EHRs.” The application process began May 14, 2012 and will close on November 9, 2012.

Challenge.gov

For this challenge, ONC has required necessary attributes for first place. The application should convert output from legacy ophthalmic imaging and measurement devices from proprietary formats to vendor-neutral standard formats. The application should also be able to archive data from multiple imaging and measurement devices. Images and data should be displayed for clinicians and permit basic functionalities such as optimizing viewing parameters. For example, settings such as brightness and contrast should be adjustable for viewing ease. Finally, the application should generate integration with existing EHRs (Existing Health Records). Where applicable, the application should additionally leverage and extend NwHIN (Nationwide Health Information Network) standards and services.

All applicants will be reviewed by the ONC review panel during the four day evaluation period (November 16, 2012-November 20, 2012). Selections will be based collectively on the previously mentioned criteria and other standards such as mobile usability, functionality, accuracy, security and general practicality. Categories for selection have been labeled as, breadth of input devices and formats, usability and interface for image viewing, integration with workflow and platform neutrality.

OIC is offering a total of $150,000 in prize money to its first, second and third place winners. First place will not only receive $100,000 but also win conference exhibition opportunity. Second and third place will receive $35,000 and $15,000 respectively.

Craig Ross, President of Kowa Optimed, voiced his positive opinion of Kowa’s involvement in the OIC stating, “It’s important to take a leadership position with ocular imaging technology. These contestants are creating the next platform for ocular technology and eye health.”

For more information regarding the Ocular Imaging Challenge visit: http://challenge.gov/ONC/363-ocular-imaging-challenge


Kowa Optimed to Participate in 2012 Vision Source National Meeting

This year has already been a busy one for Kowa Optimed who has participated in a number of events including Heart of America, Vision Expo East, and SECO International.  Next on this month’s agenda is the 2012 Vision Source National Meeting to be held April 26th – 28th in the beautiful city of Orlando. Florida.

Vision Source was founded in 1991 with the belief that eye health care is best provided by an independent family eye doctor, free to make his or her own decisions about what is best for the continued good vision of the patient. As a member of Vision Source, a private practice optometrist has access to the shared knowledge and resources of a network with more than 2,000 offices.

Eye care is forever evolving and we are excited to be apart of yet another event allowing us the opportunity to share our knowledge as well as gain insight into what others are doing to help everyone posses the best vision possible.

For over 50 years Kowa has been a leader in providing the most advanced instrumentation to ophthalmic practices. Some of our products to be presented at the event include a line of the largest selection of precision instruments including digital fundus imaging, perimeters, tonometers, slit lamps, and binolcular loupes. The DigiVersal image management system and our comprehensive activeEHR practice management solutions is designed specifically for eye care professionals and supported by a network of dedicated service specialists.

For more information on Kowa Optimed products and services visit our booth, #34,  in the Bonnet Creek Ballroom or visit our website at http://www.kowa-usa.com/Eyecare/index.html .


EHR Adoption and The Connection to Internet Access

Since EHR’s came out there has been a divide between the consumers and the health care providers.  There is a movement to bring health management tools to the consumer through such devices as apps for the iPhone and iPad, games to play on Wii, or kiosks at your local pharmacy.  The question is what happens to those of us who do not have a smart phone, computer or Internet access?  Meaningful Use incentives are mainly targeted at those who have government sponsored healthcare, but they are also the one’s who are the least likely to have access to such items as smartphone and reliable Internet.

It is only those patients who have reliable Internet and smart phones that will be able to see how well digital health care can work.  This is because they will be the ones receiving e-mails from their doctors, connecting with them via social media, and be able to receive updates regarding EHR’s.

The question is how can we solve this divide of Internet access?  How can we make sure that all those who want to take full advantage of the EHR system can?  The government recently unveiled a new initiative – the Connect to Compete initiative – in which broadband Internet will be offered at a cheaper price for low-income families.  This is a great step in the right direction to bringing healthcare to all of America.  We are in a digital age, and so everyone should have access to the digital world.  EHR’s are an amazing system that we hope everyone can use to it’s full potential.

 


10 Questions to Figure Out if You Need an EHR system

As Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems become more talked about, and have more incentives, you may be wondering if you need one at your practice?  It is a costly endeavor, but there are many features that could help both you and your patients.  No matter if you are a practitioner, dentist, optometrists, or run a PCMH and EHR system could really benefit you.

Here are some questions to ask your self:

1. Is this the right time for my business to switch?

  • There are great financial incentives.  There are many tools that improve a practice greatly.  The flow of information is easier and there is filing of paper.

2. Is this an affordable endeavor?

  • With the new IRC section 179 tax laws if a practice spends up to $2 million of qualified equipment, a $500,000 deduction will qualify for that year.

3. What are your goals?

  • Chart a variety of aspects that EHR systems look at (workflow, refill time, time optimization, medical errors) and see where you are.  In doing this make a list of the goals to see if you are ready for an EHR system and then which system is best for you?

4. Is time optimization a concern of yours?

  • EHR systems optimize both patient and doctor time by having readily available patient information, easy to document records, and fast flow of information.

5. How will my workflow be affected?

  • Although it may take time to file all the papers into the system, ultimately it should increase your workflow.

6. Does it take a long time for refill orders to process?

  • Is this a complaint from your patients?  If so EHR greatly improves this system to be automatic and fast.

7. What is your medical error rate?

  • Before you get an EHR system you will want to chart this number.  In doing so think about this number – is it where you want to be?  EHR

8. Do I want to go to paperless?

  • What costs are cut?  What costs are gained?  How much time will this take?  These are all important questions and will have unique answers for each business

9. Talk to your patients and staff about where they feel your practice could improve.

  • In doing so this will also help you figure out your goals and if an EHR system will be helpful.

10. How do I choose an EHR system?

  • This will take time and effort is a whole different set of questions.

Taking Care Of Your Eyes Is Easy

Taking care of your vision should be one of your top priorities.  Our eyes take in the world around us, and sadly out of the five senses this is fastest growing one to be lost.   There are four main ways to take of your eyes – protecting them, preventing eye problems, finding out about congenial eye disease, and looking into temporary eye conditions.  It is recommended to get an eye check up at least once a year!

Protecting your eyes is the first most important thing, and it is fairly easy, it just requires a little bit of extra effort.  Recent studies have found that certain vitamins are key to good eye health.  Vitamin A, found in carrots and multi-vitamins, is key to preventing deficiencies.  One of the symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency is a chronic dry eye, if you have this we highly recommend you ask both your physician and optometrists about this condition.  The next great nutrient for your eyes is antioxidants – they help prevent macular degeneration.  They also have a lot of other nutritional value for your whole body.  The other key to protecting your eyes is wearing the correct protection.  When in the sun wearing sunglasses is crucial to prevent UV damage.   When doing house work, or work where small debris may fly into the eye wearing safety goggles is a must.  A small step like this could prevent a much larger disaster from happening.

Preventing eye problems is the next step.  This is again easy, but it requires making the extra effort.   The first step is to wear sunglasses, just like your skin can get burnt so can your eyes.  Wearing a hat and sunglasses is the best idea because it cuts down light reflecting off the water or other surfaces as well.  The other unintentional problem that we face is eyestrain.  When one works in front of a computer all day or reads all the time this can cause a lot of strain on the eyes.  Make sure to take breaks, take a walk, and let your eyes wonder.  They’re many exercises to do to prevent eyestrain.

Sadly, there some eye diseases we cannot prevent fully, but being aware of them is key.  Some of the main congenial eye diseases are cataracts and astigmatism.   Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that results in obscured vision.  Astigmatism is caused by a defect in the curvature of the eye, which mainly affects the peripheral vision.   If you would like to find out more about congenial diseases ask your optometrist, many of the diseases your doctor will test for on a regular basis such as glaucoma.

The last step to good eye health is finding out about temporary conditions.  The most common temporary condition is conjunctivitis also known as pink eye.   It is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva.  If your eyes are bothering you in any way such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, watery eyes, these are all temporary problems that can be fixed.

Remember to get a yearly check up at your optometrist.  With today’s technology it is a quick easy visit, that no longer requires drops and wait periods, everything is done electronically!


Meaningful Use Incentive Program Not Over Yet

There has been a recent buzz about Meaningful Use Funding being removed; this caused many meaningful users, and non-users to wonder about what to do next.  This rumor appears to be false, as President Obama’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction states that the incentives program will continue for those acquiring meaningful use.  In 2015 those who have become meaningful users will be penalized.  This money is going to go towards helping everyone, by going into a deficit reduction fund.  The money collected will go into an account beginning in 2020 that will be used starting in 2021 for deficit reduction.  The plan is that in 10 years we will save $500 million.  This will greatly reduce our deficit.

Meaningful use is a program that is meant to help not only the hospitals and doctor’s offices, but the patients as well.   There are three main components to meaningful use

1. The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing

2. The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.

3. The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures.

There are three stages of meaningful use: Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3.  Stage 1 started this year, 2011, and will go until 2012.  This is when companies will start to understand how to use the EHR system and information sharing.  Stage 2 will start in 2013, and stage 3 will begin in 2015.  Both of these stages will be further implementation of EHR and information sharing systems.  These rules will be created as the stages start.  To learn more about the Meaningful Use program go to https://www.cms.gov/ehrincentiveprograms/30_Meaningful_Use.asp


Is our Health Insurance System Efficient?

Today health insurance paper work costs doctors on average $83K a year.  That is absurdly large, and seems rather unnecessary.  This cost represents the time and labor it takes for physician’s employees to communicate with insurance companies concerning plans, claims, billing and coverage.

A study published in the journal of Health Affairs was comparing US and Canadian doctors, as well as Canada’s single payer system to the US’s multi-insurance company system.  The problem with the US’s system is that not everyone is speaking the same language; each carrier has different coding, and deals and no one can keep up with them all.

With the new digital systems a common language is created because everyone needs to be able to be placed in the same system.  Today there are third-party entities that come into play showing that insurance claim may not even be at the insurance office. This very much complicates the process.

The published study found that Canadian doctors spend a quarter of the time completing the necessary paper work.  On average an American doctor will spend 21 hours a week dealing with paper work, while a Canadian doctor will only spend 2 hours a week.  One of the main places American’s spend our time is on obtaining authorizations and on billing.  With a single payer system doctors are only filling out one type of paper work.

How will this study affect American’s health insurance system?  Are we being efficient?