April 12, 2023

NHS England has praised the OSA’s role and contribution to digital imaging interoperability and accountability in eye care. Plans for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine – DICOM -standardisation across all aspects of optometry and ophthalmology are rapidly moving ahead with the first sample assurance audit planned for the end of April.

“The profession needs to be confident about the interoperability of digital imaging, both in primary and secondary care, and the need to address and streamline referrals.  We have seen a genuine alignment from all industry stakeholders to address this problem and to work towards a common solution that will benefit patients, suppliers and ECPs,” said Karl Jeebaun, Chair of the OSA E-Health Group, who has led discussions with the NHS, and The Royal Colleges of Optometry and Ophthalmology.

The NHS is keen to see consistent and accountable standardisation for DICOM by creating a set of sub-standards –

“The pressing need is to reduce one of the largest waiting lists for NHS referrals, and so the standardisation of DICOM – and therefore its increased interoperability – is expected to mean that more patients can be treated within High Street optometry. This should reduce the burden on the NHS and address treatable vision loss,” added Karl.

NHS England has been keen, from the outset, to ensure that smaller specialist organisations have a voice in discussions, just as much as the larger imaging suppliers, and for this reason the OSA’s expertise and connections provide one unifying voice.

“We are at a pivotal time and it is essential to ensure that our members and users have a single source of guidance, particularly for the profession, given the current eyecare transformation that is being conducted throughout the industry which is a key factor for adoption. The OSA has a mission statement to address this on behalf of both our members and wider suppliers, but also for the sector at large.  Having an up-to-date source of information, to give suppliers the latest UK requirements, and buyers the assurance to adopt.”

The OSA’s focus on E-Health, including DICOM, is to –

+Educate – providing a single source of guidance

+Support – with a digital checklist, assurance programme and resources

+Unlock – with all relevant industry and profession

Speaking at the Spring OSA meeting in London last week, Karl was praised by OSA Chair Roy Stoner for the considerable progress already achieved, and he stressed –

“Currently FDA and CE marked equipment can be used in the UK, but the question of accountability is not clear.  We need standards and confidence in those standards.  We are addressing that with all parties, to provide confidence and to ensure optimum use of the NHS resources and the best patient outcomes.”