The EyePACS Robotic Camera

March 8, 2019

Our new robotic cameras are shortening photographer training time and patient encounters, while improving image quality and patient satisfaction.

Ten years ago, EyePACS was excited to provide the first commercially available robotic retinal cameras to our clinics...or so we thought! The robotic cameras would function autonomously with little intervention by the photographers, greatly reducing the need for training. Operators could use the cameras right out of the box! This was supposed to be a great relief to clinics who would usually need to constantly train staff. However, as we tested these cameras in real life settings, we found that they were too slow to keep up with many of the unsteady patients with diabetes who often had mobility issues and other comorbidities. Dr. Omolola Ogunyemi, a professor and informatics researcher at Charles Drew University and UCLA, described these difficulties in her study: Autonomy versus automation: perceptions of nonmydriatic camera choice for teleretinal screening in an urban safety net clinic. The photographers that were interviewed complained that the robotic cameras had difficulty acquiring good quality images, often resetting or falling into endless loops as they chased patients’ pupils around on the viewing screens. Instead of improving the process, the cameras took twice as long and captured poorer quality images than the manual standard retinal cameras. The photographers actually “preferred using the manual camera because it gave them more control over the images.” The robotic cameras were just too slow to effectively capture retinal images.

Recent improvements in sensors, haptics, and artificial intelligence have greatly speeded up robotic retinal cameras therefore making them more accurate. We are now excited and confident to introduce our new fully robotic camera. This rugged camera requires no calibration and takes excellent quality retinal images, even on unsteady patients. The camera’s optics gets into small pupils allowing 95% success rate in capturing images without pupil dilation. Here’s a short clip of the camera in action:

With our standard manual retinal cameras, it would typically take 1-2 weeks to onboard a new photographer. We’d train them, they’d practice on their own, submit practice cases and after they’ve passed, they’d be officially certified. Now with the new robotic camera, we’re able to train photographers in approximately 30 minutes. They practice and then we can certify them on the spot.

The new robotic cameras have been clinically validated in real life settings, and cost less than manual cameras for our primary care partners. Please let us know if you would like more information.

"The [robotic] camera is very intuitive and easy to use. The staff finds this camera to be more user-friendly than others we have had in the past. Making for more utilization." - Sirene Garcia, Chief Innovation Officer, Finger Lakes Community Health

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