By Jacob German
At IRIS, we must identify and deliver the right imaging equipment for our customers. Many customers who partner with IRIS come to us with little knowledge of diagnostic eye care, particularly around retinal imaging and eye diagnostic equipment.
Our Mission at IRIS is to end preventable blindness. To fulfill that mission, we make sure that each organization we partner with is making smart, educated decisions when selecting the right imaging equipment. The equipment that they choose will ultimately lead to saving future patient's vision.
As Operations Manager at IRIS, I work with multiple types of retinal imaging cameras on a day to day basis. It is my responsibility to understand each device's pros and cons that are compatible with IRIS's camera agnostic technology.
Choosing the best retinal imaging camera for your organization can, at times, be overwhelming. Likely, organizations looking to implement a Diabetic Retinal Evaluation (DRE) program have seen demos and sales brochures regarding multiple camera types from numerous manufacturers.
When clients start to hear the words "non-mydriatic, tabletop, handheld, portability, fixation," the process can quickly become murky. The camera decision will ultimately lead to the success of capturing quality photos for review and, eventually, the program's success.
Picking the wrong camera can lead to frustration and resentfulness. These feelings will inevitably lead to an unsuccessful program.
It is essential to understand what is important when picking a retinal imaging camera. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you select a camera for your company:
1. Tabletop camera versus handheld camera
Tabletop camera –– We use the term "tabletop" camera to describe cameras that sit on top of a medical instrument table. The two pieces of equipment work hand in hand to deliver the best possible experience for both the camera operator and the patient.
Tabletop cameras traditionally come at a higher price point than the portable handheld camera. The majority of tabletop cameras offer very high image quality and fully automatic image capture capabilities, leading to ease-of-use and high user satisfaction.
Handheld camera –– A handheld camera is a smaller, more portable device. This device is battery-operated and does not need a stand or table to operate. This unit is best suited for customers that want to be more mobile with their camera.
Handheld cameras are often selected when exams are performed in a patient's home or a screening event location. A handheld camera also offers a smaller footprint in your clinic, leading to increased flexibility when using the camera.
Often, handheld cameras are priced lower than tabletops. Most handheld cameras are fully manual, which can take longer to master. The possible requirement of more practice isn't a negative quality of handheld cameras; instead, another factor to consider.
2. Image quality
How important is it to easily capture a quality image? The short answer is critical!
It is not unusual for organizations to overlook image quality and focus solely on price. IRIS prides itself on teaching and training all camera types and we know that superior image quality is achieved with each camera compatible with our . We have a team of training experts that go on-site with our customers to train and teach in person, or virtually if our clients choose.
Depending on the camera type, each user’s experience is slightly different. Tabletop cameras are typically much easier to use than a handheld device because tabletop cameras generally are fully automatic. A fully automatic camera usually leads to more consistent quality images.
However, as mentioned earlier, this also comes at a price. You pay a premium for that functionality and ease of use experience.
A handheld camera is a more manual process that gives the user more control when capturing a patient's images. Because the camera needs to be aligned and focused manually, there is a steeper learning curve. However, with the help of IRIS trainers, this learning curve is lowered drastically.
Handheld cameras offer high-quality images in a portable fashion at a lower price point. This camera type is an excellent option for organizations that want to be more mobile or purchase multiple cameras.
3. Ease of use
When deciding on a retinal imaging camera, always think about who in your organization will be performing the exam and ask questions regarding ease of use. It is critically important to pick a camera that your staff will be comfortable using.
If they are confident, it will lead to high satisfaction and engagement in the program, leading to quality image capture. Quality image capture allows for a higher interpretation rate from the licensed provider reviewing the images.
There are many factors to consider and reasons for choosing one type of retinal camera over another. Your selection will have a lasting impact on your organization and your patients. These tips are a great way to make confident decisions as you pick retinal screening tools for your camera operators and patients.