Our consultant certification program officially turned 10 this year! We have certified over one thousand individuals to use lesion based grading for retinopathy detection and triage. We’ve always believed in keeping our platforms open to allow others to help improve retinal care as they deem best.
When Dr. Jorge Cuadros and Dr. Wyatt Tellis created EyePACS in 2001, the consultant certification program did not exist. Instead, clinicians interpreted the images in their own ways, but that resulted in inconsistent readings. That’s why EyePACS developed the certification program based on the extensive experience of our internationally known retinal specialist, Dr. George Bresnick.
Initially, this clinician certification program was aimed for eye care specialists to read retinal images, but we soon realized that it was important to broaden its purpose and reach. Improving communication about diabetic eye disease between patients with diabetes and primary care staff is crucial to engaging patients in their eye care. With the certification program, primary care staff learn about the components and the progression of diabetic retinopathy in order to help patients understand their risk for vision loss. This can help patients accept the need for treatment before symptoms arise, while there is still time to prevent vision impairment. Engaging patients in their care not only improves adherence to referral recommendations for specialty eye care, but can also improve control of their diabetes.
There are still many areas where access to eye care specialists is scarce so when George Hayes, a diabetes educator, passed our certification program with high marks, we researched this possibility of non eye care providers reading images for the purpose of patient education. The poster below indicates that non-eye care specialists can score as well as eye care specialists in detecting and grading the severity of diabetic retinopathy.
Over the years, our consultant certification program has been used in a number of different settings besides community health centers, such as universities and international programs. UC Berkeley and UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) have made it part of their academic curricula. It is particularly useful in international programs for underserved communities, where eye care resources are scarce. How you adapt EyePACS is your decision; we’re just enthusiastic to help where we can.