University of Iowa Health Care using AI to assess preventable blindness

Diagnostic technology from IDx checks for diabetic retinopathy during routine office visits, says Michael Abramoff, MD.

University of Iowa Health Care has gone live on a new artificial intelligence-powered diagnostic system that detects diabetic retinopathy, a condition that damages the retina of the eyes and is a major cause of blindness in persons with diabetes.

The delivery system is using the diagnostic technology of IDx, a privately held company in Coralville, Iowa. Michael Abramoff, MD, a practicing ophthalmologist, noticed how much time he spent screening patients for diabetic retinopathy who did not have the disease while other patients who were going blind had to wait months to be diagnosed.

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Abramoff founded IDx to develop an automated diabetic retinopathy diagnostic product, the first autonomous AI diagnostic system approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

IDx-DR uses artificial intelligence to make a diagnostic assessment without requiring a clinician to interpret the image or results. It enables physicians not normally involved in eye care to test for diabetic retinopathy during routine office visits.

Providers at University of Iowa Health Care started using the product, called IDx-DR, on June 12 to assess patients for diabetic retinopathy, with plans to make the technology available across the delivery system. Several other large healthcare systems are expected to go live with the technology this year.

“The number of inquiries we’ve received from healthcare administrators and physicians since IDx-DR received clearance is remarkable,” says Abramoff. “This high level of interest shows how badly a solution like IDx-DR is needed to improve outcomes for people with diabetes. There is simply no reason for more than 24,000 individuals to lose vision each year from diabetic retinopathy.”

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