healthcaretechoutlook

EyePACS: Sustainable Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy

 Dr. Jorge Cuadros, CEO
The principal cause of permanent blindness in the present working age is due to diabetic eye disease, in particular Diabetic Retinopathy (DR). “It afflicts more than 93 million people worldwide, and in the U.S. alone it causes blindness in about 24,000 people each year,” posits Dr. Jorge Cuadros, CEO, EyePACS. Though it is advisable to undergo timely eye examinations, diabetic patients do not attend the regular tests due to many reasons including poor access to convenient and affordable care. EyePACS solves this problem by using telemedicine, making it convenient for diabetic patients to take retinal evaluations with a digital retinal camera during their normal primary care visits in any centre. With its strong Information Science background, Eye Picture Archive Communication System, or EyePACS enables referrals to specialist providers where patients could be screened remotely and advised in a primary care setting.

“Our primary goal is to establish a link between the primary care providers and the eye care specialists, irrespective of their physical location,” says Dr. Cuadros. This allows the firm to work according to the primary needs of a highly validated clinical program that fits within the reimbursement restrictions. The company’s web-based application facilitates the exchange of eye-related clinical information using telemedicine and digital imaging devices. With the firm’s turn-key system and their “store-and-forward” electronic consult technology, EyePACS provides expert consultations through their network. EyePACS has a well-organized database that captures and stores millions of these retinal images and check-up details from a really diverse population. “The testing technology is now available, it is simple, scalable, and works really well,” says Dr. Cuadros. The firm’s website screens these images asynchronously and allows for online evaluations by the specialists for their follow-up and treatment.

“Our solution integrates with any type of retinal camera, and by being “agnostic” to retinal capture technology, we are able to take advantage of the new technologies as soon as they emerge in the market,” explains Dr. Cuadros.

Our primary goal is to establish a link between the primary care providers and the eye care specialists, irrespective of their physical location


Through these integrations, EyePACS has not only been able to improve the workflow for primary care clinics but also eliminate the dependence on scarce specialty resources. EyePACS has implemented programs across most of the U.S. and several other countries, and have tested more than a half million people for DR, and saved the eyesight of thousands. “We also have a unique lesion based grading protocol that allows us to collect highly curated clinical data in a more consistent way than a typical screening program,” avers Dr. Cuadros.

In an instance, The Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW), a non-profitable organization had issues related to their desired measures for retinal exams for diabetic patients and needed a clinically validated solution. CHPW approached EyePACS as they had the perfect balance of clinical validation, ease of use, and cost that worked for them. Upon using EyePACS, CHPW was able to greatly increase their rates of retinal exams among their network of clinics. CHPW participating clinics have placed over 60 cameras in their different healthcare sites spread across Washington.

EyePACS has plans to make major changes this year that will greatly change the way primary care centers interact with eye care clinicians. On the innovation front, the firm is integrating artificial intelligence to improve the effectiveness of the diabetic retinal encounter. Over the past three years, EyePACS has worked with hundreds of innovative image processing teams to evaluate the most effective use of algorithms for evaluating retinal images for the purpose of assisting human clinicians. EyePACS is also en route to provide multi-lingual services through their platform. “We are excited about the way artificial intelligence, algorithms and also new imaging technology is allowing us to take care of patients, who often have no idea that they are on the verge of vision impairment,” concludes Dr. Cuadros.