Diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes complication that targets the eyes, is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States among working-age adults. Diabetic retinopathy causes gradual damage to the blood vessel in the retina. The condition is treatable when caught early--but at advanced stages, can cause blindness.
The standard approach to diabetic patient eye problems and intervention lies in the use of a diabetic retinal exam or DRE. DREs provide doctors with a high-quality image of the retina to identify any damage to the blood vessels and track any progression of the disease.
In the United States, healthcare systems are judged based on levels of patient compliance, including compliance with eye exams like the DRE. When hospitals or clinics do not meet the determined rates of compliance, they are flagged as having a care gap and could have negative consequences for the health system.
This care gap has wide-reaching consequences. It’s crucial for patients to achieve early intervention in diabetic retinopathy, as early detection can reduce the risk of severe vision loss by 90 percent, as well as reduce the long-term healthcare costs associated with blindness.
Eye Care for Diabetic Patients
To close this gap, medical professionals must work together to provide accessible pathways to care for their at-risk patients. This includes redesigning and streamlining systems to ensure compliance with diabetes care.
For the diabetic retinal exam, in particular, healthcare organizations would benefit from technology that allows for retinal imaging solutions and DREs to be performed in-house, as opposed to having to refer patients out to specialists each time.
IRIS’s cloud-based diagnostic imaging solution and retinal telemedicine platform allow primary care offices to administer teleretinal exams as a part of routine checkups. This also allows for centralization and comprehensive patient records.
At the medical practice Gateway Medical Associates, which implemented IRIS imaging solutions into their workflow, the compliance rate for DREs increased from 37% to 85% in a single year.
With the increased adoption of teleretinal technology like IRIS, care gaps in diabetes can continue to shrink until every patient can achieve the highest level of care possible.
Learn more about IRIS’s fight to prevent blindness here.
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