WisPolitics: UW-Madison: Innovative Wisconsin telehealth program dramatically boosts diabetic eye screening research findings prompt clinic to change its practice

WisPolitics: UW-Madison: Innovative Wisconsin telehealth program dramatically boosts diabetic eye screening research findings prompt clinic to change its practice

Thanks to an unusual telehealth program, a rural Wisconsin health system has seen a 35 percent increase over a three-year period in diabetic eye screenings, a boost that far exceeded expectations.

Patients at Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston, Wisconsin, can walk in and have a retinal photograph taken at the clinic in a matter of minutes. The photos are sent to UW Health in Madison, about 75 miles away, where eye specialists review them for signs of early damage that, if untreated, could lead to blindness.  Patients who are flagged with problems are referred to their local physicians for follow-up care.

Early diagnosis and treatment decrease the risk of severe vision loss from diabetic eye disease by 90 percent, but fewer than half of the 29.1 million Americans with diabetes receive yearly eye screenings.  The problem is especially acute in rural areas; Mile Bluff is the only full-service hospital in a six-county area of central Wisconsin.

Dr. Yao Liu, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is the lead on this project that aims to address barriers and find ways to increase eye screening.

Read the full article here.