Working Together to Better Serve Patients with Diabetes
November 5, 2009, St. Louis, Mo. - The American Optometric Association (AOA) and Digital Healthcare, Inc. (DH) have joined together to assist optometrists in providing better care for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases, and in promoting public health. Both parties recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The cooperative relationship will facilitate the development of a range of programs and initiatives to ensure the medically underserved and uninsured have access to comprehensive vision and eye health services. One project the organizations plan to work towards is the development of vision and eye health information technology (HIT) systems to benefit at risk patients.
Digital Healthcare's RetasureTM tool helps optometrists extend their reach to primary care physicians and endocrinologists in their community. As an example, optometrists can benefit from DH tools by providing reimbursable image interpretation services to local primary care physicians, thus becoming more directly connected to their patients in the primary care setting. Retinal images, taken in the primary care setting and shared with local optometrists, allow ODs to triage patients into appropriate care. DH will also help optometrists more efficiently refer patients with advanced surgical needs to related specialists and provide additional opportunities for post surgical care.
The AOA/DH program will provide local optometrists the opportunity to invest and combine their expertise and place DH tools in primary care settings to further extend the reach of optometry to high risk individuals.
The AOA and DH will collaborate through a variety of technology deployments in an array of care settings (primary care offices, endocrinology offices, university residency programs, community-based health systems, integrated delivery networks) to facilitate improved communication and coordination between optometrists and primary care physicians to enhance community-based diabetes team care.
"The technology will benefit optometrists and their patients by offering a more coordinated approach to health care," said Randolph E. Brooks, AOA president. "We will also be working on delivering a variety of technology advancements in a diversity of health care settings - from private practices to community-based health care systems - facilitating both better delivery of eye care, and improved communication and coordination between optometrists and primary care physicians."
"DH provides excellent tools that facilitate communication which can enhance community-based, patient-centered diabetes care," said Dr. Michael Fleming, past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
For optometrists interested in becoming a part of this collaboration, the AOA and DH have developed a deployment program through a toll-free number (866-539-4213) and through www.retasure.com.
About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.
American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.
About Digital Healthcare, Inc.:
Digital Healthcare's Retasure solution offers several advantages for primary care and endocrinologist physicians and their patients: It can be operated by non-clinicians; it is non-invasive and requires no dilation; and it obtains exceptionally high-quality digital images of the retina. This FDA-approved technology is used by a broad range of doctors and facilities throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, including leading hospitals and research centers, primary care groups, private ophthalmology and optometry groups, family practice residency centers, and internal, multi-specialty and endocrinology groups. Digital Healthcare's technology is used to manage more than 10 million retinal images across the world and is growing every day.