The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced the Ocular Imaging Developer Contest, a new Investing in Innovation Initiative (i2) developer challenge, focused on ending the fragmentation of ophthalmological imaging and patient record-keeping technologies.

Ophthalmology specialists use a variety of measurement and imaging devices during exams to produce data and images in numerous forms. However these are often stored in databases and file formats that have limited interoperability with EHR systems and ophthalmology-specific picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). The challenges associated with recording typical ophthalmological exam data in a standard EHR system creates barriers to full acceptance and use of EHRs within the medical community.

Submission deadline for applicants is November 9th. First prize will receive $100K, with $35K and $15K awarded to the second and third place entries respectively. For more information see the challenge website here.

Other specialties, such as cardiology, physiatry, and otorhinolaryngology encounter the same imaging problem, so a successful solution can be expected to have an impact beyond ophthalmology. The tool would make it easier for ophthalmologists to save eye images and other data in a patients EHR, lowering the barrier to adoption and enhancing the capability of EHRs to store all of a patient’s medical data.

The application will achieve the following:

  • Convert output from legacy ophthalmic imaging and measurement devices from proprietary formats to vendor-neutral standard formats (e.g. using freeware DICOM tools)
  • Archive data from multiple imaging and measurement devices
  • Display images and data for clinicians, and permit basic functionalities such as optimizing viewing parameters (e.g. brightness, contrast, color, zoom, pan)
  • Integrate with existing EHRs (e.g. “single sign-on”)
  • Where applicable, leverage and extend NwHIN standards and services including, but not limited to, transport (Direct, web services), content (Transitions of Care, CCD/CCR), and standardized vocabularies

Strong performance in the “breadth of input devices” and the “platform neutrality” judging criteria will facilitate cross-specialty utilization.