Digital Eye Health; towards remote monitoring in eyecare
The major consequence of the COVID-19 crisis for this profession is the acutely reduced access to eyecare. This global event catalysed the paradigm shift towards remote (eye)care, where technology is used to deliver appropriate care and retain the continuity of care for the patients. The UMC Utrecht is the research partner of Easee BV, a Dutch start-up that developed a unique CE-1m-certified web-based eyetest. Its quality and safety are reported in several clinical studies, though the tool needs significant improvements to function in a healthcare environment.
To rapidly make available remote eye care for patients and their doctors in the current COVID-19 crisis, to support availability and accessibility of eye care in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, and to improve the existing tool into a clinically validated and integrated platform, enabling the heralded sustainable digital transition in eye health.
The existing proprietary algorithms on web-based visual function testing will be developed into a new telemonitoring eyecare platform through 1) enabling swift IT integration in a healthcare environment, 2) tailoring the user-experience to a new group of users (i.e. patients and doctors), 3) improving the functionality of the algorithm to automatically validate test results, and 4) to investigate its clinical validity in a prospective multicentre trial. These steps will be operationalised in parallel.
Anticipated social and economic impact
The current COVID-19 crisis has profound consequences for the health and mobility of (elderly) population at risk in whom ophthalmic diseases are highly prevalent (1.3 million unique patients yearly in NL). Telemonitoring will increase their access to eyecare and enables treatment from the comfort of their own homes. In addition, the platform helps doctors to optimise the allocation of scarce hospital/staff facilities. A maximal saving of €200 per prevented clinical visit is calculated (€140 in hospital facilities, and €85 societal/patient costs, minus €25 fee per online evaluation). True economic impact will be researched in a health technology assessment.