CFEH Extends Telemedicine Efforts

Sep 13, 2013

The Centre for Eye Health was the first organisation within the Australian optometry industry to electronically transmit patient images and results securely. It then expanded its use of telemedicine technology to assist the Prince of Wales Hospital outback eye service programme in establishing a diabetic screening programme at four sites in western NSW. Now, the Centre is collaborating with Gosford and Nepean hospitals to implement the same telemedicine technology to aid in the detection and diagnosis of diabetic eye disease.

Whilst the program is in the very early stages, CFEH Principal Optometrist Paula Katalinic believes this program has a lot of potential for these areas.

“Typically, public ophthalmology has been difficult to access for patients in these areas. This program is a great opportunity to capture patients who are not already under care of an optometrist or ophthalmologist and who are at a high risk of vision loss”.

Mrs Katalinic visited Nepean hospital in early September to discuss the collaboration with a number of professionals who work at the hospitals diabetes services centre including endocrinologists, nurses and diabetes educators. The plan is to train these healthcare workers to confidently take retinal images of patients eyes within their diabetes complication screening clinic before sending the images to CFEH for interpretation.

“Whilst we still have a way to go in setting up the program, particularly around the IT infrastructure, we are really looking forward to contributing to the reduction of preventable vision loss for diabetic patients in the Nepean and Gosford Hospital districts’ said David Murray, CFEH Executive Officer. ‘We hope the success of this project will allow us to talk with other similar health care centres to continue to work towards the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness”.