WEDNESDAY, March 29, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A primary-care-based teleretinal diabetic retinopathy screening (TDRS) program can reduce wait times for DR screening and increase overall screening rates, according to a study published online March 27 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Lauren P. Daskivich, M.D., from the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles County, and colleagues conducted a pretest-posttest evaluation of exposure to primary-care-based TDRS at five of 15 safety net clinics. They examined annual rates of DR screening before and after implementation of the TDRS program as well as time to screening.
The researchers found that for the 21,222 patients who underwent screening, the median time to DR screening decreased significantly from 158 days before the intervention to 17 days after implementation of the program. There was an increase in overall annual screening rates for DR, from 40.6 percent of 14,633 patients before implementation to 56.9 percent of 13,133 patients after implementation (odds ratio, 1.9) at all 15 targeted clinics. Overall, 68.8, 19.6, and 11.6 percent of those screened did not require referral to an eye care professional, were referred for DR treatment or monitoring, and were referred for other ophthalmologic conditions, respectively.
"Teleretinal DR screening programs have the potential to maximize access and efficiency in the safety net, where the need for such programs is most critical," the authors write.