President of RANZCO, Dr. Bradley Horsburgh said “such devices could bridge the gap between health workers and enable stronger communication and collaboration – all for the patient’s benefit”.
RANZCO ophthalmologists worked with the Lions Outback Vision Project in rural Western Australia, in which an app was developed that enables patient bookings and secure image transfer from a GP or eye health worker’s smartphone to the ophthalmologist. The smartphone can be used to take screen shots, photos of printouts of a patient’s visual field or a printout of an OCT scan.
Dr. Horsburgh cautioned against an easy-health-fix mentality if such devices become easily accessible to the public. “We don’t want the public to be able to make eye health assumptions about images they have taken themselves. An ophthalmologist is best-qualified to make any diagnosis. They can interpret data and images at the most sophisticated level due to their extensive training… there are also issues around patient confidentiality with image sharing from phones.”
RANZCO has a position statement on the use of clinical photographs covering consent, collection and disclosure, particularly if minors are involved. The Australian Medical Association has a guideline for clinical images and personal mobile device use.