Four Things to Know About Comprehensive Diabetic Eye Care

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Diabetes is one of the most well-known chronic conditions in the US. 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, and yet about 8.5 million, or 23% of adults, remain undiagnosed. While individuals may commonly know about diabetes, not enough individuals are getting diagnosed and regulated. Furthermore, quality reports show consistent failures in healthcare facilities to reach compliance with HEDIS measures, an important metric used to measure the success of a health facility’s comprehensive diabetic care program. So what can be done to improve the quality of comprehensive diabetic care for all diabetic patients everywhere?

There are multiple factors at play that affect the quality of diabetic care, including income levels, access to comprehensive eye care, and the knowledge levels of patients. In this blog, we will detail four things that can help improve holistic diabetic care and comprehensive eye care for those with diabetes.


What is Comprehensive Diabetic Care?

Here is some quick background information before we cover more in-depth topics: Comprehensive diabetic care is management that looks at the whole picture of how diabetes affects an individual, not just one aspect. A comprehensive diabetic care plan involves monitoring and caring for a diabetic patient’s blood sugar levels, but also their eyes, heart, kidneys, teeth, and feet. 

#1 Diabetic Patients Need Advocates, Especially Those In Lower Income Areas

Diabetes affects millions of people in the US alone, but it disproportionately affects minorities and those with lower incomes. American Indians are twice as likely to have diabetes than white Americans, and 13% of Black Americans and 13% of Hispanic Americans have diabetes, versus 9% of white Americans. In a previous blog, IRIS’s CEO discussed the fact that the disproportionate effect diabetes has had on minorities partially has to do with a lack of access to resources. 

In order to address this disparity in care, healthcare practices can make their comprehensive diabetic care more readily available and easy to understand for diabetic patients. Equalizing the quality of healthcare available to various populations is a difficult and multi-faceted issue, but attempting to serve diabetic populations that have less access to diabetic care resources means investing in technology and methods that make it easier to provide diabetic care to patients. Improving the quality of care for diabetic patients has additional benefits to the provider as well, like further supporting a provider’s ability to achieve a higher HEDIS measure.

#2 Improving Patient-Doctor Communication

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition caused by diabetes, and its prevention and management is an important part of a diabetic care plan, alongside a comprehensive eye care plan. A study released in April of 2022 shows that some of the most important determinants in a patient getting preventative annual diabetic retinopathy exams are provider reinforcement of the importance of annual diabetic retinopathy exams, effective reminders, and established preventative screening workflows. 

Communication with and encouragement from health care professionals is one of the best ways to improve the numbers of individuals who get tested for diabetic retinopathy every year, and improvement in this skill set is one of the benefits of working with IRIS. All of our clients are given training on how to effectively communicate the importance of comprehensive diabetic care through increased annual diabetic retinal exams.

#3 Patients Are More Likely To Take Preventative Measures If They’re Accessible

Like we’ve said, many individuals in the US just don’t have the time or the resources to go to the number of appointments and check-ups that are a crucial part of a comprehensive diabetic care plan. But modern innovative technology is rapidly changing the accessibility of important tests, such as annual diabetic retinopathy screenings. 

Check out how CommUnityCare, a healthcare provider in a region where diabetes is a leading health concern in the population, utilized modern technology to perform over 18,600 new annual diabetic retinopathy exams over the course of two years.

Read the full case study here about how IRIS trained CommUnityCare’s teams and optimized workflows in a way that allowed them to match more HEDIS measures and provide more comprehensive diabetic care.

#4 Comprehensive Eye Care Is Essential To Proper Diabetes Management

Diabetes affects every 1 in 10 people in the US. And diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. 

But this disease only leads to blindness if it is not caught at its early stages. This means the leading cause of blindness in the world is wholly preventable.

A study was performed from 2010-2014 that surveyed 298,383 insured patients with type 2 diabetes and no diagnosed diabetic retinopathy. Almost half of these individuals had no eye exam visits over the 5-year period and only 15.3% met the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations for annual or biennial eye exams. The study also surveyed 2,949 individuals with type 1 diabetes and found a third of them had no eye exam visits and only 26.3% met ADA comprehensive care recommendations.

Over that same 5 year period, the study found that the prevalence and cumulative incidence of diabetic retinopathy were 24.4% and 15.8% for patients with type 2 diabetes, and 54% and 33.4% for patients with type 1 diabetes. 

Providing patients with easy access to comprehensive eye care is of the utmost importance to raise these numbers. But this is much easier said than done; factors like income, area, and time influence a patient’s ability to get annual diabetic retinopathy exams, leading to significant roadblocks along the way. 

That’s why technology like IRIS is pivotal in increasing the prevalence of these exams. IRIS’s unique solution allows any healthcare provider anywhere in the US to perform diabetic retinopathy screenings, significantly decreasing the obstacles facing diabetic patients when it comes to comprehensive eye care and diabetic care. 



Comprehensive Eye Care: The IRIS Solution

Providing comprehensive eye care to diabetic patients can be particularly difficult given the lack of symptoms of treatable, early-stage diabetic retinopathy and the lack of accessibility to quality care. IRIS’s technology helps any healthcare practice, regardless of their specialty, administer annual diabetic retinal exams to diabetic patients. This could include integrating diabetic retinal screenings into a pharmacy, lab, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), health risk assessments, and more – we make it work to fit your needs.

Interested in seeing how IRIS’s solution could work for you? Contact us for a free demo.



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