Quest Diagnostics collaborates with IRIS to add diabetic retinopathy screening

April 13, 2022

Quest Diagnostics announced a collaboration with IRIS (Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems) to deliver diabetic retinal imaging services through designated Quest Diagnostics patient service centers across the United States to aid in screening patients for retinal assessment by a healthcare provider, according to a news release.

The collaboration aims to increase convenience and improve screening rates for diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in the United States, for members of population health management programs sponsored by health plans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of patients with diabetes over 40 years old have diabetic retinopathy. Screening to aid early detection and treatment may help prevent the disease from progressing to blindness. While an annual diabetic retinal screening is medically recommended for patients with diabetes, barriers to care can limit access to this service.

In 2018, Quest Diagnostics, through its Quest HealthConnect (QHC) business, began to provide diabetic retinal imaging for use in screening using the IRIS platform. This platform involves the use of a portable, handheld camera that captures a patient's retinal images as part of its risk evaluation and care services for participating health plan members. The new collaboration with IRIS extends the use of the IRIS platform at Quest's patient service centers.

New service builds on Quest's vision to aid in closing gaps in care for patients with diabetes

The new service expands on the Quest Diagnostics Extended Care portfolio of services designed to facilitate access to care beyond traditional healthcare settings. These services feature home-based risk assessment and monitoring tools through Quest HealthConnect and coaching for chronic conditions through Pack Health, which Quest Diagnostics acquired in January 2022. It also includes services provided by Quest Healthcare Analytics, which utilizes the company's database of 60 billion laboratory test results to help identify and engage at-risk members for health plans to close screening gaps and improve care quality and outcomes.

With training developed by IRIS, designated personnel at Quest patient service centers will transmit a patient's retinal image to a credentialed, licensed ophthalmologist to interpret the images. The IRIS Program returns a diagnostic and patient report to Quest HealthConnect. The results are also transmitted to the health plan as well as the patient's primary care physician or eye specialist for follow-up diagnosis and care.

"Limited access to important screenings has allowed the undetected, sight-threatening progression of diabetic retinopathy to grow," said Christopher Grant, Vice President & General Manager, Quest HealthConnect. "Through this collaboration with IRIS, we can now provide a new opportunity to help prevent sight loss. Leveraging our network of patient service centers will increase access to screenings for many, ultimately leading to better health outcomes."

"IRIS is thrilled to be joined by Quest Diagnostics, the nation's leading provider of diagnostic information services, to help mitigate preventable blindness," said Steve Martin, IRIS CEO. "Through this expanded care network, it will make it much easier to reach the estimated 60% of people with diabetes that are currently skipping their annual diabetic retinopathy check."

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina and can lead to vision loss or blindness in diabetics. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy is crucial to slowing disease progression and preventing patients from losing their eyesight.

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