Insights From Our Editors

Optimizing the High-Tech Future of Eye Disease Management

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

May 16, 2018

There are more advanced tools looming in the near future than ever before to diagnose, and monitor, eye disease. For instance, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month began permitting marketing of the first medical device to use artificial intelligence to detect greater than a mild level of diabetic retinopathy in adults who have diabetes.

What other exciting high-tech tools may be coming soon to eyecare, and how can your practice be a part of the health-care teams that will be optimizing this new technology?

Let’s start with these interesting offerings:
• 3-D virtual try-on for frames that includes a 3-D map of the patient’s head.

• 3-D printing of frames, spectacle lenses and contact lenses.

• Smartphone eye exams.

• Intelligent eyeglass frames communicating with smartphones for everything from gaming to health monitoring.

• Telehealth.

Review of Optometry lists a series of articles addressing new technology. You can access these articles HERE , or by clicking the links below. Here are just a few of the articles:

“New Ultra-widefield Imager Features OCT”
Doctors can now perform axial tomographic scanning and multimodal retinal imaging with the same instrument.

“AI Algorithms Successful in Diagnosing DR”
Technology may provide greater efficiency for telemedicine-based screenings.

“AI Provides Contact Lens Advice”
A new chatbot promotes Acuvue lenses through Facebook Messenger.

“Non-Contact Imaging of Corneal Cells”
A new instrument might make cellular resolution imaging possible—without touching the eye.

“DR, AMD and Glaucoma all Classified with AI”
New studies show promise for detecting many ocular conditions with deep learning.

“Ocular Insert: A Step Toward Dropping Drops”
New delivery method may bypass patient compliance with topical therapy.

The big question is: when do you incorporate new technology into your practice? One road to the answer to this question is dependent on how many patients you have in your practice that could benefit from new technology. If it is just a few, it may be more prudent to send these patients out to someone who has invested in the new technology. On the other hand, if you have enough patients, then sooner rather than later may be the answer. How do you know if you have enough patients? Run a Return on Investment calculation.

“ROI measures the amount of return on an investment, relative to the investment’s cost. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.

The return on investment formula:

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment”1

This calculation tells you if you can even breakeven with the new technology with your current patient population.

A variation on this formula would be to calculate how many patients it would take to become profitable with a new piece of technology. With this calculation you can determine if the number is within reach for your practice.

No matter what you decide, you need to make sure your practice is part of the health-care teams optimizing new technology. As our understanding of disease progresses, and technology to diagnose and treat diseases advances, we need to make sure that we are always delivering the best care to every patient we see, whether it be directly in our practices, or indirectly through a health-care team.


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