Imagine Losing Your Vision…Now Imagine You Might Have NEVER Had To

Life can be a great teacher…though recovering from some of its lessons can be hard. Take retinopathy – the leading cause of blindness for working age Americans between the ages of 20 and 65. The leading cause of this condition is diabetes, growing rapidly to nearly 30 million Americans.

Two big surprises: First is that 90% of all retinopathy-related blindness can be detected early by a simple test; and treated successfully with medication. Second is that less than 50% of all diabetic patients ever get the yearly test in the first place. That’s just in America – add on top of that nearly 400 million diabetic individuals worldwide.

How many people will lose their good vision and perhaps entire sight needlessly?

That became the impetus for Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems or IRIS. Recently at HIMSS17, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Jason Crawford, the CEO of IRIS. Their powerful retinal scanning technology, coupled with improved patient engagement and care coordination, was awarded the 2017 Microsoft Health Innovation Award.

Their mission is to inject their 2-minute diagnostic test to seamlessly alert both caregivers and patients carrying silent signs of retinopathy. Individuals who unbeknownst to them, would eventually become irreversibly sight-impaired or completely blind.

An example is Cox Health, a not-for-profit health system client in Missouri that serves a population of 24,000 patients with diabetes. In partnership with IRIS and its retinal telemedicine platform, Cox Health was able to bring the DRE to its patients with diabetes at the primary point of care.

By placing the exam at the primary point of care and connecting the data with the facility’s EMR, Cox examined more than 2,600 patients. From just those scans, the system and doctors detected 800 potential sight-threatening conditions, including 347 that had a form of diabetic retinopathy with the potential of causing near term blindness. 

In this Red Hot Healthcare episode, Dr. Steve and Jason Crawford discuss:

  • Why IRIS’ unique eye scan technology should be part of every yearly physical and checkup.
  • How helping providers operationalize new technology is more necessary than just ‘selling cameras’.
  • AI and machine learning in applying retinal images to brain, kidney and heart health
  • Growth of nearly 3X year-over-year…with more growth in sight