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American Academy of Ophthalmology launches national initiative to benchmark and improve patient care

NEW ORLEANS November 17, 2013 − The American Academy of Ophthalmology today unveiled the nation's first comprehensive eye disease and condition patient database. The IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight) made its debut in a presentation to 25,000 attendees during the opening session of the world's largest ophthalmic conference the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

The IRIS Registry is a centralized collection and reporting software tool that compiles and processes data from electronic health records (EHR) to enable ophthalmologists to statistically analyze their own care, compare it to that of their peers and pinpoint opportunities for improvement. The database also allows ophthalmologists to manage their patients at a population level; study a specific group of patients based on conditions, risk factors, demographics or outcomes; identify trends and track interventions and answer specific clinical questions. The IRIS Registry is currently being piloted with 120 ophthalmology practices, representing approximately 370,000 patient encounters across 35 states. The Academy estimates that the database will be populated with data from more than 18 million patients by 2016.

The ophthalmology database is expected to provide other significant benefits top among them is streamlined participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), a program that uses a combination of incentive payments and payment adjustments to promote reporting of quality information by eligible health professionals. Physicians who do not participate in PQRS in 2014 will face a penalty in 2016. Penalties for failure to participate in PQRS are assessed annually and are expected to continue indefinitely. As an approved PQRS electronic health record submission vendor, the IRIS Registry can directly and automatically extract data for PQRS measures and submit it to CMS on a practice's behalf, eliminating the need for the traditional method of manually reporting data on Medicare claims throughout the year.

"With the wide adoption of electronic heath records, the time is right to fully utilize the power of information technology to produce evidence-based, statistically-valid information that can help ophthalmologists determine how to improve patient care," said William L. Rich III, M.D., medical director of health policy for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "The Academy looks forward to the moment when the registry reaches critical mass and our profession can see the full potential of its capabilities to fill many gaps in ophthalmic knowledge to improve overall quality of patient care."

The IRIS Registry is designed to integrate with any EHR system with many of the major vendors having already successfully mapped data elements. It uses proprietary software that is installed on a server in the ophthalmologist's practice that helps the IRIS Registry interface with the practice EHR in order to extract data fields for reporting.

The Academy plans for the IRIS Registry to expand its scope in the future to include functions for supporting the American Board of Ophthalmology's Maintenance of Certification Part IV Performance Improvement Modules by automating the collection of data directly from EHRs; clinical research; post-market surveillance studies of ophthalmic drugs and devices; early detection of safety signals for adverse health events; and determining changes in practice patterns.

"The potential of the IRIS Registry to deliver game-changing results for ophthalmologists and their patients is tremendous," said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "This is why physicians in 35 states have already signed up to use this powerful database well ahead of its full roll-out. It's clear from the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response the Academy is receiving that there is a great need and desire for this kind of technology."

Access to the IRIS Registry will be made widely available to U.S.-based members of the Academy by April 2014, with the first 2,000 U.S.-based Academy members who sign up to participate receiving it at no cost for the first two years. For more information about the IRIS Registry, visit


Contact: Media Relations
American Academy of Ophthalmology

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