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Tech Culture | May/June '22

Digital Ophthalmic Society

Disc operating systems, commonly known by the acronym DOS, have been around since the advent of personal computing in 1981. Fundamentally, a disc operating system allows users without coding proficiency to use and interact with all the functionality a computer can offer. Like a disc operating system, the Digital Ophthalmic Society, or DOS for short, is an instrument for those who stive to improve the interaction between technology, ophthalmology, and the user.

More granularly, the DOS is a platform for learning and growth, with the specific aim of creating, understanding, and implementing digital solutions for the clinical problems ophthalmologists face every day. The DOS provides equitable ground for housing discussions, partnerships, and ideas among ophthalmic surgeons, industry leaders, and engineers who strive to leverage digital technology to improve and strengthen the field. By facilitating this interaction through peer-to-peer communication, lectures, and policy/protocol development, the DOS’ mission is to ensure that ophthalmology is positioned to lead the charge into the future of digital solutions in medicine.

What this future looks like is largely up to us as providers to decide. Technology is enabling ophthalmologists to optimize diagnostics and outcomes more today than ever before. The adoption of this technology, although instrumental, is offset by its limitations in redundancies, time-consuming nature, and lack of interconnectivity. As the availability and efficiency of digital technology grows rapidly, we are in an exciting position to leverage these advances to improve the lives of many, from practitioners to students to patients to administrators.

For practicing physicians, the reality of a collective centralized system that intelligently reads and learns from massive, stored databases is within reach. Systems like these could be built to provide ophthalmic surgeons with a range of intelligence—from seamless, real-time suggestions in the OR to preoperative statistical analysis to guide treatment. On the backend, developing systems to decrease redundancies, increase access to care, and streamline decision-making and documentation will allow physicians to see more patients with greater efficacy. Furthermore, designing interoperable systems and integrating with machine learning and neural networks will likely change the way we approach our understanding of certain pathologies.

For patients, the implementation of blockchain technology is already being harnessed to provide a space for them to store their personal health information digitally and safely. Implementing products like these would limit excessive and unnecessary repeat studies when a patient goes from one provider to another, efficiently store and transfer pertinent details from patient allergies to notes from visits to other providers, and aid in eliminating some effects of patient-provider discontinuity. As the COVID-19 pandemic helped demonstrate, there is a massive opportunity for telemedicine to improve the lives of patients. Virtual care visits may begin to provide us with additional details and higher-yield data points on progressive pathologies. Similarly, these technologies may be instrumental in early disease detection and progression.

Finally, digital spaces such as the metaverse could provide platforms for students to more efficiently interact and learn from attendings without having to be in the same room or even city. The days of silently reading a textbook in the library could be replaced by accessible, interactive, 3D educational content. Virtual and augmented reality systems could provide a unique interactive learning classroom for beginner and advanced techniques alike. Lastly, the harnessing of nonfungible tokens to track completed coursework, certifications, and credentialing would ease the administrative burden on hospitals and students at all levels of training.

The possibilities are undeniably exciting to think about, but they aren’t within reach unless we are all on board. From physicians with decades of experience to new trainees, everyone will need to bring creative ideas to the table in order for us to utilize the massive influx of technology to its full potential. At a baseline, it is critical for our patients’ health that individuals take an interest in learning to use the digital technology that is and will soon be available to us. With that in mind, the DOS believes that it is just as much up to providers to drive the success of digital technology in ophthalmology as it is to those writing the hard code behind it.

Michael Parise, BS
  • Student doctor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York
  • Financial disclosure: None
Eric Rosenberg, DO, MSE
  • Cornea, cataract, and refractive surgeon, SightMD, Babylon, New York
  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Westchester Medical Center, New York
  • Cofounder, Digital Ophthalmic Society, www.digitalophthalmicsociety.com
  • Member, MillennialEYE Editorial Board
  • ericr29@gmail.com
  • Financial disclosure: None