SUNY College of Optometry Explores Telemedicine


Care Lead Advance

 

NEW YORK, September 25, 2019 — Two new initiatives could expand the way SUNY delivers its exceptional eye care.

As one of the world’s leading optometry institutions, it is not surprising that the SUNY College of Optometry has focused its attention on the future of eye care: telehealth.

The ability to meet with and diagnose patients computer-to-computer, instead of face-to-face, holds untold possibilities. “We are well aware that telehealth will almost certainly be a game changer with regard to healthcare delivery over the upcoming years and we want to ensure the University Eye Center is positioned to be part of that from the outset,” says Dr. Michael McGovern, OD, FAAO, chief medical officer.

And so the College has entered what McGovern calls the “foundation building” stage with two telehealth initiatives. The first project is with Topcon Medical Systems, a developer and supplier of equipment. Topcon has launched a program to sell cameras that can take pictures of the retina in the back of the eye to primary care doctors, who will then photograph the eyes of diabetic patients who have not had recent eye exams. The University Eye Center (UEC) is one of the program’s designated reading centers and has three providers trained to interpret the images and offer a diagnosis or detect signs of diabetic eye disease. Patients would then be notified of the results and advised of the best next steps to take.

“Diabetes can lead to blindness if not properly cared for and this is a great way to screen diabetics who may be failing to get their eyes checked,” says McGovern, adding that the College is ready to begin diagnosis once Topcon begins sending images.

The second telehealth initiative is with EyecareLive, a company dedicated to telemedicine optometric solutions. EyecareLive offers patients a telehealth portal with two platforms. The first allows patients and their providers to communicate remotely, for example, from the patient’s home (or car or desk at work) to the provider’s office. The second platform is provider-to-provider and is intended to facilitate reviewing findings with a referral doctor or to discuss second opinions.

“The goal is for the UEC to have a telehealth program where, when appropriate, we can communicate with patients via portals that offer the required security and privacy features,” says McGovern. To date, the college has nearly completed the significant legal paperwork that goes into such an endeavor. By the end of the summer, EyecareLive staff will train providers from each of the three UEC services in the use of the software. What follows is a six-month trial license so providers can, McGovern says, “play in the sandbox.” This means testing the functionality of both platforms with mock patients and other providers. After the trial period, the College will decide if it wants to proceed with the project.

Whatever the outcome of these two current initiatives, it is clear that the way the College delivers eye care is heading well beyond its doors—to anywhere with a computer and Internet connection.

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About SUNY Optometry
Founded in 1971 and located in New York City, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a leader in education, research, and patient care, offering the Doctor of Optometry degree as well as MS and PhD degrees in vision science. The College conducts a robust program of basic, translational and clinical research and has 65 affiliated clinical training sites. SUNY Optometry is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; its four-year professional degree program and residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. All classrooms, research facilities and the University Eye Center, which is one of the largest optometric outpatient facilities in the nation, are located on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in midtown Manhattan. To learn more about SUNY Optometry, visit www.sunyopt.edu.

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