The Eyes Have It
This week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONR) threw down a $150,000 gauntlet for the development of a multidisciplinary solution that would advance electronic image collection and sharing across a variety of specialties. The Ocular Imaging Challenge, which runs until November 9, 2012, will award $150,000 in the form of three top prizes to the creator of “an application that improves interoperability among office-based ophthalmic imaging devices, measurement devices, and EHRs,” according to the challenge rules. Documenting ophthalmic exams in EHR “creates barriers to full acceptance and use of EHRs within the medical community,” according to the ONC. The big challenge is how to collect and display the results of ophthalmic visual field testing and numerical and image data, which are often stored in proprietary formats that impede their incorporation into EHR and PACS systems. The ONC ascribes this problem to limited adoption of DICOM and noncompliance with its standards among legacy devices. But the feds are hoping the contest will cast a wider net, saying it has “every expectation” that whatever the winning solution offers will be “immediately translatable” to ENT, physiatry, and cardiology image-sharing. Meanwhile, the continued development of ophthalmic imaging solutions took another step forward this week with FDA approval for Bioptigen to begin marketing its hand-held Envisu Spectral Domain Ophthalmic Imaging System (SDOIS) devices for patient use. Envisu SDOIS provides non-contact optical imaging and is the first hand-held optical CT scanner approved for pediatric imaging. Among the features of the product are interchangeable lenses that “allow clinicians to image various structures of the eye, from cornea to retina,” according to a Bioptigen press release. In addition to approving its right to take the solution to market, NIH had also awarded the company $2.7 million in grant funding back in September 2011 to find ways to make its technology available for the study of premature and neonatal infants. Both patient groups can suffer from a number of childhood eye diseases, especially retinopathy, which may be related to the high-oxygen environments in which such children are kept.