Author(s):Liu Y, Carlson JN, Torres Diaz A, Lock LJ, Zupan NJ, Molfenter TD, Mahoney JE, Palta M, Boss D, Bjelland TD, Smith MA. Sustaining Gains in Diabetic Eye Screening: Outcomes from a Stakeholder-Based Implementation Program for Teleophthalmology in Primary Care. Telemed J E Health. 2021 Sep;27(9):1021-1028. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2020.0270. Epub 2020 Nov 19. PMID 33216697
Journal: Telemedicine Journal And E Health : The Official Journal Of The American Telemedicine Association, Volume 27, Issue 9, Sep 2021
Background: Teleophthalmology is a validated method for diabetic eye screening that is underutilized in U.S. primary care clinics. Even when made available to patients, its long-term effectiveness for increasing screening rates is often limited. Introduction: We hypothesized that a stakeholder-based implementation program could increase teleophthalmology use and sustain improvements in diabetic eye screening. Materials and Methods:We used the NIATx Model to test a stakeholder-based teleophthalmology implementation program, I-SITE at one primary care clinic (Main) and compared teleophthalmology use and diabetic eye screening rates with those of other primary care clinics (Outreach) within a U.S. multipayer health system where teleophthalmology was underutilized.Results:Teleophthalmology use increased post-I-SITE implementation (odds ratio [OR] = 5.73 [p < 0.001]), and was greater at the Main than at the Outreach clinics (OR = 10.0 vs. 1.69, p < 0.001). Overall diabetic eye screening rates maintained an increase from 47.4% at baseline to 60.2% and 64.1% at 1 and 2 years post-I-SITE implementation, respectively (p < 0.001). Patients who were younger (OR = 0.98 per year of age, p = 0.02) and men (OR = 1.98, p = 0.002) were more likely to use teleophthalmology than in-person dilated eye examinations for diabetic eye screening.Discussion: Our stakeholder-based implementation program achieved a significant increase in overall teleophthalmology use and maintained increased post-teleophthalmology diabetic eye screening rates. Conclusion: Stakeholder-based implementation may increase the long-term reach and effectiveness of teleophthalmology to reduce vision loss from diabetes. Our approach may improve integration of telehealth interventions into primary care.