Retinal imaging system adopted for LLU telehealth initiative
Gary Buck, president of Visual Pathways, Inc., demonstrates the ARIS™ to a group of health care professionals at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The Loma Linda University telehealth initiative has adopted an automated retinal imaging system (ARIS™) as a tool to assist rural and medically underserved clinics and hospitals to pursue preventive action and corrective care management for retinal diseases, according to Billy Hughes, PhD, dean, School of Pharmacy, and a principal investigator for the telehealth initiative.
ARIS™ provides high-resolution stereo digital retinal images for detecting retinal diseases associated with diabetes, as well as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
“We are convinced that the investment made by the United States Department of Defense to support the development of a diagnostic tool that can function in remote locations without access to specialists is well-founded,” says Dr. Hughes says. “This can be accomplished without pupil dilation and without the assistance of a highly-skilled photographer.”
He adds, “Thus, we will facilitate early diagnosis and treatment in diabetic patients.”
Funded by grants from the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center and the UniHealth Foundation, the telehealth initiative has successfully placed the ARIS™ at Catalina Island Medical Center and at Central Valley Hospital at Hanford. ARIS™ also exists at Tehachapi Valley Hospital District and at the Tehachapi Correctional Institution.
“With our knowledge that only half of known diabetic patients receive annual retinal exams,” explains Paul Simms, MPH, director of the Loma Linda University telehealth initiative, “we are hopeful that access will be improved and that the numbers of patients obtaining retinal screenings will increase.”
Sustainability is an important issue for telemedicine, according to Mr. Simms.
“We have seen grant-funded telemedicine efforts in the mid- and late-1900s come and go. When the grant funds expired, these projects disappeared.
“If we are going to have a long-term positive impact on health disparities, sustainability is the key.”
By Richard Weismeyer