OPHTEL2014: Questions and answers

What is the purpose of OPHTEL2014?
The main purpose is a survey about Health IT in ophthalmic environments and the professional support of Health IT projects in ophthalmolgy. International eye clinics shall be involved in the study which shall be published in 2015 (Stage 1)

How can a candidate apply for OPHTEL2014?
All ophthalmologists interested in OPHTEL2014 can contact IOTA. They will receive the relevant forms for the survey and information about the project regulations and the funding potential.

Who can participate in OPHTEL2014 and get funding and support for the EMR implementation?
All eye institutes, clinics and private ophthalmologists can participate in OPHTEL2014. The project languages shall be English, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

Which investments and services can be funded?
Investments for EMR (Electronic Medical Record) software can be funded (maximum 25% of the investment).

What are the regulations for the funding?
The EMR system has to fulfill the requirements of the OPHTEL2014 project (using international standards such as HL7, DICOM, IHE approval, SNOMED compatible terminologies etc.) and has to be accredited by IOTA. The users have to provide reports about the introduction and realization phase of 24 months (preparation and decision process, customization, technical implementation, training, ROI and benefits).

What are the requirements for the EMR system?
The EMR software shall be available for international users with at least 4 language versions (mandatory is English, Spanish, German and another language). Customization for eye care subspecialties shall be an option and structured data storage with terms and codes (e.g. SNOMED compatible) shall be provided for automated reporting and data mining (basic requirements according to the US MU 2014 certification regulations).

How is the legal and financial process defined?
The participants provide information about their status regarding the use of Health IT and their decision process. In the second stage the participants can receive funding.
After the user project is approved by the IOTA the user can sign the contract with the vendor (e.g. for 75% of the investment) and IOTA (e.g. for 25% funding of the investment). The vendor receives 75% from the user and up to 25% from the IOTA directly. The user has to provide the agreed reports and documentation within a period of 24 months according to the project standard guidelines (checklists and questionnaires) to the IOTA.

What are the benefits of OPHTEL2014 for the user?
Besides the attractive funding the user receives special services combined with additional benefits. In conjunction with the most important international meetings (WOC, AAO, ASCRS, ESCRS, ARVO) OPHTEL2011 user meetings are organized supporting exchange of information and important experience. The IOTA together with the vendors provides special individual services like webinars, teleconsultation and training regarding the customization processes.

What are the time lines for OPHTEL 2014?
Stage 1 (survey) starts in March 2014
The contracts for OPHTEL2014  funding have to be signed not later than December  31, 2014. The user project has to be started before December 31, 2014. For 24 months (until   31, 2016) OPHTEL2014 is defined. Follow up project with web based applications like registries, studies and collaboration networks are scheduled up from October 2014.

How can OPHTEL 2014 support the users marketing activities?
All OPHTEL2014 survey participants become IOTA members and receive an attractive certification for their institute. The IOTA also provides professional publications and press material for promoting the benefits of intelligent information technology for the patients.

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Clinical Terminology

Terminology is one of the most important components for data exchange between ophthalmic professionals worldwide. SNOMED CT for eye care is a clinical terminology and is considered to be the most comprehensive, multilingual healthcare terminology in the world. The AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) supports SNOMED CT (for more information please read the article AAO Adopts SNOMED CT).



In eye care, digital diagnosis and therapy systems play an important role. More than 400 different types of equipments with digital output are registered and more than 980,000 systems and instruments are installed worldwide. These devices range from autorefractors to highly sophisticated laser diagnostic devices (RT, OCT etc.). To connect these instruments with innovative electronic medical records (EMR), open standards are required.

With IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) a platform for evaluating standards (like HL7 and DICOM) has been established.


EMR Data Conversion

The experience with EMR systems did show that within the first 3 years approx. a third (36%) of the ophthalmologists had to change their system (e.g. vendor went out of business, user was unhappy with the SW etc.). To guarantee the future use of the patient data base an open standard was develeoped which allows the data export to another system independent from the vendor. The CDE-EC (Clinical Data Exchange-Eye Care) is based on the official German HIT standard (BDT-A).
International and eye care specialized vendors provide interfaces according to the standard free of charge: view standard


Image Management

DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is the standard for image management in healthcare environments. The standard is also supported by the eye care community. Within the DICOM community, ophthalmology is represented by the dedicated Workgroup WG 9 (for more information please visit the AAO website).