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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 43 Number 5, September/October 2006
Pages 741 — 748


Abstract - Framework for a national teleretinal imaging program to screen for diabetic retinopathy in Veterans Health Administration patients

Paul R. Conlin, MD;1-2* Barry M. Fisch, OD;3 James C. Orcutt, MD, PhD;4 Barbara J. Hetrick, OD;5

Adam W. Darkins, MD6

1Endocrinology Section, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA; 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; 3Optometry Section, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA; 4Department of Ophthalmology,
VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; 5Optometry Service, Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center, Walla Walla, WA; 6Office of Care Coordination, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, DC
Abstract — Digital retinal imaging with remote image interpretation (teleretinal imaging) is an emerging healthcare technology for screening patients for diabetic retinopathy (DR). The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) convened an expert panel in 2001 to determine and resolve the requisite clinical, quality and training, information technology, and healthcare infrastructure issues associated with deploying a teleretinal imaging system. The panel formulated consensus recommendations based on available literature and identified areas of uncertainty that merited further clarification or research. Subsequent VHA experience with teleretinal imaging and accumulated scientific evidence support nationwide regionalized deployment of teleretinal imaging to screen for DR. The goal is to screen approximately 75,000 patients in the first year of the program, which commenced in 2006. This program will increase patients' access to screening for DR, provide outcomes data, and offer a unique platform for systematically evaluating the role of this technology in the care of diabetic eye disease and routine eye-care practice.
Key words: diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, eye-care delivery, healthcare technology, rehabilitation, screening, telemedicine, teleretinal imaging, VHA, visual impairment.

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