Almost a year after the launch of Topcon’s Harmony data management platform in Australia and New Zealand, Dr Richard Gardner from Perth, and Alex Craig from Karratha Eye Care, talk about why great data management is so fundamental to their businesses, and how Harmony has helped.
Efficient data management is one of the biggest challenges facing medicine today. To really make a difference to workflows and patient outcomes, platforms must be designed with a clear perspective and deep knowledge of the enormous volumes of data being collected and stored by clinicians, and the complex ways in which it is used.
“Managing the volume of data we need to store, in a safe and yet easy to access manner, is perhaps the biggest challenge we face,” says Dr Gardner. “There are always more patients to see and thus more and more data is collected.”
Central to the Harmony platform’s success is it’s impressive connectivity, as Dr Gardner observes.
Patients today are far more aware of these devices and expectations are naturally very high
“Being able to access all this information from different sites, from a safe cloud-based store via Harmony on both Macs and PCs is incredibly useful,” he said.
Demonstrating the Topcon team’s ability to comprehend and holistically respond to the needs of clinicians and their patients, Harmony’s connectivity is not limited in scope to Topcon devices alone, nor confined by the four walls of a clinician’s primary practice.
Instead, the platform offers clinicians a solution to a long-known pain point, with electronic medical record (EMR) integration to connect disparate systems and devices. The connection automatically generates clinical worklists, eliminating the need for manual data entry at every device, which helps drive efficiency and accuracy.
“Once upon a time seeing a new patient meant we had to enter fields and fields of data into different places on multiple machines. Even little things like the order in which the date was entered was frustrating. Now, once the patient has been checked into our EMR they appear on the worklist and all of our machines can talk to this list and get the details they need. No more redundant data entry, with all the time wasting that comes with that… It also means there is less room for error in terms of patient identification when performing a test and less ‘dirty data’. My assessing staff and orthoptists love it,” said Dr Gardner.
In developing Harmony, the Topcon team recognised that there are a multitude of factors that determine what devices a clinician selects for their diagnostic toolkit, from personal preference to clinic legacy systems. Harmony’s open architecture software enables all devices within a clinic to be connected, regardless of manufacturer or DICOM. At a time when the number of tests and patients is on the increase, this impressive level of connectivity makes collecting, visualising and reviewing a wide range of imaging and clinical data more efficient.
As Dr Gardner says, “Being able to bring all of this data together easily in a way that allows for pattern and trend recognition is critical”.
ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANY DEVICE
Multisite connectivity and cloud-based data storage also means that data stored on Harmony can be accessed from any certified device, regardless of location, whether the clinician is in the Pilbara or metropolitan Perth.
For Alex Craig of Karratha Eye Care, delivering consistent, good quality care to patients in regional and remote areas is of utmost importance to his business. “Accessibility to my patient data from an online hub means I can manage from anywhere; there are vast distances across the Pilbara and having this access makes tracking change easy and patient care better. The layout and viewing of multiple images at once has allowed me to make quick and directed management.”
USER-FRIENDLY SMART DESIGN
Smart design is about designing for purpose, which doesn’t always necessitate a ‘bigger than Ben Hur’ solution. Applied well, it addresses a core problem and identifies opportunities to solve complimentary problems, through a process of continuous improvement to refine and enhance the user experience. Addressing connectivity is only one part of the solution – usability of the data is critical and that’s where features like Harmony’s Timeline and customisable templates enhance the user experience. The Timeline allows longitudinal, simultaneous multi-device display of imaging and data, providing clinicians with a more intuitive, at-a-glance interface, to support faster, more accurate clinical decision making.
For Dr Gardner, the Timeline was one feature that both surprised and impressed him. “Being able to see at a glance what test was done and when is incredibly useful. It is now very easy to see if any particular test, such as a visual field, is due for repeating… On the data interpretation (output) side, having all the information in the same spot in a graphically friendly interface means that it is quicker and easier to view the data and see problems or patterns.”
Dr Gardner said the Timeline is also a useful patient communication tool. “Patients today are far more aware of these devices and expectations are naturally very high. (Harmony makes) it easier to show patients their results and flick from one test result to another. This has given me back some time and made the process far more enjoyable for my patients, my staff and myself.”
He believes one of the biggest opportunities for eye care will be to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning “into our systems to ensure that we are maximising our efforts in making the correct diagnosis, identifying change and targeting treatment”.
Indeed this is something that Topcon has firmly in mind. Harmony can connect users with integrated AI to support clinical decision making, offering them an instant second opinion in the identification and diagnosis of ocular conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
AWARD WINNING INNOVATION
Topcon healthcare has been seeing eye health differently for decades. The company’s purpose stems from the broader organisational philosophy to develop technology that fundamentally changes the basic foundations of human life through to innovative solutions in healthcare, agriculture and infrastructure. For Topcon Healthcare, supporting clinicians to provide excellent patient care drives and directs all activity.
“We are very proud of our achievements and the recognition we have received from industry for our innovation and hard work. Last year alone we were named as global market-leaders for optical coherence tomography by 2020 Ophthalmic Diagnostic Equipment Market Report, and we received the prestigious Silmo d’Or award for the Myah. Our position in the industry is simply a by-product of our focus on our purpose, and our strong will and determination to always move forward in pursuit of that purpose. But that is not to say that we are not driven to maintain our position in the industry – the more successful our devices and software are, the better outcomes we are generating for clinicians and their patients,” said Akifumi Baba, President, Topcon Healthcare Solutions.
Vicki Paras (BHSc/MOrth) is an orthoptist who works with Topcon in Australia.