March 1, 2001
Volume XXXV, No. 9



Ophthalmology department sets sights on high-tech database

PHOTO Dr. Christopher Macdonald examines Elva Saucedo with a "slit lamp." The machine shoots a thin beam of light, enabling doctors to closely examine the eye.

The ophthalmology department will get a better look at patient records, test results and clinical trends thanks to a newly developed database. The computer system is called EyeNet. It provides a uniform system to access patient information at all the UTHSC ophthalmology clinics and surgical sites.

"Traditionally, each clinic has used a different information service. It's very fragmented," said Dr. Christopher Macdonald, director of the retina division. "We wanted a cohesive system that coordinates the surgical needs of ophthalmologists with the latest patient information from clinics."

Dr. Macdonald spearheaded the effort to implement EyeNet and currently is designing parts of the program. He has developed a similar database at the University of California, San Diego, and says it benefits both patients and doctors.

"EyeNet gives surgeons instant access to the patient information they need," Dr. MacDonald said. "The patients get faster, more reliable clinical care, and they often benefit from any clinical research tracked on the system."

Dr. Macdonald said EyeNet is still in its infancy. He said the program eventually will enable doctors to track clinical trends in the large population of diabetic patients currently seeking eye care.