December 06, 2018
2 min read

Cloud-based imaging, telemedicine platform increases rate of diabetic retinal exams

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Susan Fleck
Susan Fleck

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems announced that its cloud-based diagnostic imaging solution and retinal telemedicine platform has identified more than 50,000 patients with advanced sight-threatening pathologies that would have led to imminent blindness had they remained undetected, resulting in what they are calling “IRIS saves.”

The platform launched in 2013, with Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) performing more than 345,000 patient exams for diabetic retinopathy and other diseases, with 15% identified with imminent sight-threatening disease and more than 40% with some level of retinal pathology.

Susan Fleck, director of operations at Gateway Medical Associates near Philadelphia, spoke with Primary Care Optometry News about how IRIS has revolutionized diabetic retinal exams at the practice.

By implementing the IRIS diabetic retinopathy telemedicine solution, Gateway has administered diabetic retinal exams to 4,810 patients in the first year, identifying 678 (14%) with diabetic retinopathy who otherwise would have gone undiagnosed. Through its adoption of this disruptive technology, Gateway has increased its patients’ diabetic retinal exam compliance rate to 85% from 37% in just 1 year. The results successfully enabled Gateway to achieve HEDIS compliance as well.

PCON: How is the IRIS telemedicine system incorporated into the practice?

Fleck: We are happy to say we implemented the IRIS process to our practices to close gaps in care, and it was hugely successful. Once the machine was delivered to the office we quickly got them set up to send information electronically to the retinal specialists. The process that was implemented is as follows:

We predetermined the gap in care for retinal screening;

On the way to the exam room the patient was screened using the IRIS machine;

Once completed, it was immediately sent via secure connection to the retinal specialist;

Confirmation was received immediately;

A report then came back to our EMR within 24 hours; and

It was reviewed by the provider, and the results are acted upon as appropriate.


PCON: Where is Gateway Medical Associates located, and what is the size of the practice?

Fleck: We are located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. We have 48 providers (38 physicians and 10 certified registered nurse practitioners). Six of these physicians are endocrinologists.

PCON: Please describe what type of patients are being given the diabetic retinal exams and the follow-up process.

Fleck: Any diabetic patient who has a gap in care for a retinal exam is given an exam. Once the results come back to us electronically, they are reviewed by the provider, and the patient is contacted with the results. How the patient is contacted (by clinical support staff or provider) is determined by the result. Any abnormal result is [given by] a provider. Normal exams are typically followed up by a clinical support person.

PCON: Are patients being referred to specific eye doctors or is it up to patients to identify an eye care provider and schedule the exam themselves?

Fleck: Based on location, previous relationship and patient insurance, preferred providers referrals are made with input from both the provider and the patient. Depending on the severity of the result, often the office assists with setting up the appointment.

Intelligent Retinal Imagining Systems is based in Pensacola, FL and was founded in 2011 by retina surgeon Sunil Gupta, MD, with the goal to end preventable blindness through developing and deploying retinal screening services in the primary care setting.

IRIS is FDA-cleared and cloud-based.

For more information:

Gateway Medical Associates is a physician-owned practice consisting of physicians and allied health providers that is located in seven sites throughout Chester and Delaware counties, including Coatesville, Downingtown, Lionville, Newtown Square and West Chester, Pa.

Disclosure: Fleck is director of operations for Gateway Medical Associates.