Integrating Retinal Imaging Technology: A Conversation with IRIS Educator Lauren Palmer
Technology has the power to change lives—particularly in healthcare. Advancements in this realm can mean more accessibility, new treatments, and better experiences for patients.
Take, for example, new 3D imaging technologies that have produced cutting-edge ways to view images. This advanced imaging can assist with more accurate diagnoses and more precise treatment plans. The prevalence of wearable technology and apps that track specific data points is also a great example. These give providers insight like never before, allowing them to monitor patients in real-time outside of visits.
Considering these advancements, it’s no surprise that nearly 80% of healthcare providers plan to increase their investment in technology over the next five years, according to a report from HIMSS.
In order to learn more about how technology is impacting healthcare, including preventative screenings like retinal imaging, we sat down with Lauren Palmer, one of our Education Specialists to find out more.
Integrating Retinal Imaging Technology into Your Practice
We asked Lauren all about retinal imaging technology, why it’s so important, and how to best integrate it in a healthcare setting.
What is retinal imaging technology?
Retinal imaging is an exam that uses a camera to take images of the back of the eye—the retina—to evaluate the health of the eye.
What can retinal imaging detect?
Retinal imaging can identify many diseases which impact eye health. For example, it detects evidence of diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Retinal imaging technology can also reveal additional eye conditions such as macular edema, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
What are the main benefits of retinal imaging?
One of the primary benefits of retinal imaging is the early detection of disease, which leads to better patient outcomes and lower care costs. Diabetic eye care is much easier and less costly when retinopathy is discovered in its early stages, and patients are far less likely to lose their sight. This also benefits health care organizations by improving their effectiveness and compliance ratings because they are providing comprehensive care and closing gaps.
And what are the challenges?
Patient education can be a challenge, as many patients do not understand how their diabetes can impact their vision, mainly because diabetic retinopathy often does not show symptoms in the early stages. Educating patients about the importance of diabetic eye care and the need for yearly retinal imaging is crucial. When presenting the exam to patients, many effective health organizations liken it to the A1C test in terms of importance to their diabetic health care.
How is retinal imaging best used in a healthcare setting?
Retinal imaging is most effective when incorporated into regular visits with providers, such as when a patient comes in for a diabetic follow-up. By capturing these images when patients are already visiting with their provider and receiving other diabetic exams, organizations can maximize preventative care and ensure patients are receiving all the necessary health maintenance.
What are some use cases that are typically not initially thought of by providers, but later prove to be effective?
Screening events can be highly effective. These events allow an organization to screen many patients in a short period. They can also give the organization access to patients who may not be coming into the office for regular visits or who primarily use telehealth visits.
How does IRIS’s solution create a more gradable retinal image?
Our proprietary image enhancement technology, automatically applied to all fundus images, equips interpreting eye care providers with a better chance at identifying signs of diabetic retinopathy and other diseases.
How does this impact providers?
Higher gradability leads to more precise results, assuring providers that the exam accurately identifies which patients have eye disease and need to be referred for treatment. With IRIS, ordering providers are able to provide better care for their diabetic patients and the Ophthalmologists can focus on more treatments rather than screenings.
How much does retinal imaging cost?
There are many factors to consider when implementing a retinal imaging program. The initial cost of implementation varies as it depends upon the type of retinal imaging machine purchased and the type of training and implementation selected. Once the initial implementation is complete, the ongoing cost is typically for the exam and interpretation fees.
Why do the benefits outweigh the costs of implementing retinal imaging in a healthcare setting?
Our studies show that one in 10 diabetic patients who receive a diabetic retinal exam will have sight-threatening pathology. Better access to retinal imaging allows patients to receive treatment as quickly as possible, leading to lower costs for treatment over time. Increased quality ratings can also lead to financial incentives and risk-adjusted payments from payors.
By providing retinal imaging, patients receive the most comprehensive preventative care possible, leading to higher patient satisfaction. IRIS’s ROI calculator can quickly indicate the return on investment your organization could receive by implementing the diabetic eye exam, and we offer personalized analyses tailored to your organization upon request.
Retinal Imaging Technology with IRIS
IRIS is genuinely committed to eliminating retinal blindness by ensuring at-risk patients have access to diabetic retinopathy screenings. Because of that commitment, we are invested in the success of our clients long after they implement the program. By providing ongoing support, we ensure that our clients are empowered to provide the highest quality of care to their patients.
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