Aim: The primary aim of this large pilot survey was to demonstrate the use and benefits of electronic data collection with respect to rapidly monitoring the access, delivery, and outcome of cataract surgery in the NHS and to update benchmark standards for these parameters of care.
Method: Eight NHS departments that currently use specialty-specific electronic clinical systems or Electronic Patient Records (EPR) to collect a minimum preoperative, operative, and anaesthetic data set for cataract surgery agreed to pool their data.
Results: A total of 162 surgeons from 50 consultant teams and eight NHS Trusts agreed to submit their data on a total of 16,541 operations for age-related cataract. This report describes the age, sex, and ethnic profiles of the patients, waiting time for surgery, ocular copathology causing a reason for a guarded visual prognosis, visual impairment on admission, visual acuity in the operated eye, and the characteristics of the anaesthetic and surgical procedures.
Conclusions: This survey has raised the benchmark standards established by the last National Survey in 1997. There has been a near universal switch to day case, phacosurgery under local anaesthesia (all used in > or =99.1% of cases compared with 70, 77, and 86%, respectively in 1997). The visual impairment in the operated eye is lower with 45% having 6 / 12 or better compared with 27% in 1997. Waiting times and visual impairment in the fellow eye have probably improved although data collection for these variables was incomplete. All departments require specialty-specific clinical systems to efficiently collect and analyse these data and this survey proves their potential to form the basis for national electronic surveys in the future.