Innovation in Focus: Digital Ophthalmic Society founder Eric Rosenberg, DO
June 10, 2022 – Eric Rosenberg founded the Digital Ophthalmic Society last year after identifying a need to engage and educate physicians around clinical technology advancements. "It's crucial for everyone – doctors, scientists, industry – to have a place for exchanging ideas and playing nice together in the sandbox."
An ophthalmologist with a strong background in engineering, Rosenberg made his first Eyecelerator appearance at ASCRS 2022. "For more than a year, the reports coming out of Eyecelerator had been phenomenal," he said. "Eric Donnenfeld told me, 'If you want to be a pioneer and help invent the future of ophthalmology, you need to be a part of this.'"
Rosenberg has risen to the challenge of starting a new society while simultaneously managing a private practice and caring for a six-month-old at home. Apparently, sleep is optional for this New York-based ophthalmologist, author and entrepreneur.
Dr. Rosenberg, What first drew you to ophthalmology?
I started off as a general surgeon. And then I was inside somebody's intestines at two o'clock in the morning and thought, "What am I doing here?"
My wife was an ophthalmology resident at that time and truthfully, I enjoyed reading her books more than my own. We wrote a textbook together called Operative Dictations in Ophthalmology and the rest is history. I soon made the move into eye care.
What motivated you to start the Digital Ophthalmic Society?
Before medical school, I studied biomedical and mechanical engineering, so I've always been plugged in to technology. Later, I noticed the lack of educational opportunities for ophthalmologists to understand the novel diagnostics and technologies being developed to improve patient care.
Also, it's clear that physicians need a voice in terms of what tools are needed and when they become available. A broad mix of subspecialties and practice styles need to be considered. The technology might look good on paper, and may be appropriate for academia, but determining when it's ready for use in private practice requires collaboration between physicians, engineers, corporate executives and others.
Why is this cross-discipline inclusiveness important?
Ophthalmology is 10 to 15 years behind finance, for example. They're broadcasting signals across satellites and bouncing them off the ocean towards other satellites just to save a fraction of a second moving data from one side of the world to the other. Why aren't these same principles applied in medicine? We need the best and brightest in engineering, computer science, industry and medicine all working together to successfully implement these advancements. Otherwise, we'll repeat the unfortunate cycle that accompanied the launch of EMR.
Education, advocacy, and industry representation all come together in the Digital Ophthalmic Society.
What sort of challenges have you faced establishing the society?
Very little, to be honest. Everyone I've approached sees a clear need to support physicians in the digital space. It's amazing that in this day and age there's still a lot we don't understand, still a decent amount of art to practicing medicine. My hope is that the society can support advancement by bringing more science to the art and creating better outcomes for patients.
What's your vision for moving the Digital Ophthalmic Society forward?
I see it as an adjunct to established societies like the American Academy of Ophthalmology and ASCRS.
On one hand, it's a community of physicians who understand digitization and can educate the rest of ophthalmology through the development of educational materials, lectures, and even tutoring.
It's also a progressive, collaborative, and multifaceted organization that can address policy. A lot of data is being generated and parameters need to be set that protect both patients and practices. Digital ophthalmology will evolve significantly over the next 10 years and without physician engagement we're going to encounter unnecessary hurdles. So whether its telemedicine or artificial intelligence, digital visualization, cloud-based computing or EMR, ophthalmic technology can only advance successfully if everyone is working together to build that better future.
- Mark Reynolds
Watch the full Digital Health Transformers session from Eyecelerator @ ASCRS 2022