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Hannah C

Toronto, ON – Ophthalmology is a very “visual” field and clinicians often prefer pen-and-paper to draw out ophthalmologic findings.  Often, this means that patient records are not on the hospital’s electronic health records (EHR) as a dictated note and instead are in paper charts.  These charts are locked after hours and create a challenge for resident physicians examining patients who are known to staff ophthalmologists but who are presenting for the first time to the on-call resident.   The resident may not know the patient’s previous eye findings, which may make it difficult to assess changes in the patient’s eye condition.  In recent years, many ophthalmologists have adopted web-based EHR such as OSCAR (Open Source Clinical Application Resource).  Generous public investments enabled the McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine to develop this program. Its implementation has radically changed my ability as a resident physician to care for patients, allowing me to securely access the illustrated documentation in patients’ electronic charts.  Furthermore, the staff ophthalmologist can remotely access the chart and provide me with more accurate and patient-centred guidance in the management of the patient.  It has improved patient-physician relationship by enhancing communication especially for patients with complicated ocular history, and establishing trust since I am knowledgeable of their eye condition and can better assess clinical progression.  I look forward to the integration of the ophthalmology-specific version of OSCAR, allowing referring physicians using OSCAR to receive electronic letters and results directly, thus ensuring continuity of care and minimizing errors in lost paperwork.