How AI can change eye care?
In the near future, AI will play an increasingly helpful role in many points within the chain of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of ophthalmic disease.
One of the most important roles of AI would be screening for ophthalmic diseases. As an example, not all patients who suspect new visual distortion on an Amsler grid may have to be immediately seen by a retina specialist. With emerging AI technology, a picture of the retina can be obtained and automatically analyzed to identify the suitable time-frame within which the patient should have his next visit with a retina specialist.
Emerging AI technology is going to be useful to all individuals who are involved within the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. This includes ophthalmic technicians, patients, general ophthalmologists, optometrists, and ophthalmologic sub-specialists.
For the patient, as imaging systems become more accessible, the interpretation of acquired images are going to be performed by AI systems and confirmed by specialists
For the retina specialist, AI will function as an assistant to assist organize the clinic by triaging patients and providing a working diagnosis, appropriate room arrangement, and anticipation of what procedures or referrals would be required for a patient. The retina expert can then conduct a more focused, resourceful, and actual evaluation and management (E&M) of the patient. Such an intelligent system will likely result in better patient satisfaction, decreased wait times, and wiser overall utilization of resources.
AI and physician shortage
However, there are currently far too few specialists within the U.S. including eye care specialists. As per a 2017 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the lack of specialists is worsening, and the U.S. will have a deficit of around 60,000+ specialist physicians by 2030.
Upon consideration of the aging population within the U.S., it becomes clear that this physician shortage is even more critical. AI can help to alleviate this shortage and can let continued access to specialized care.
AI will serve to reinforce human intelligence and optimize the efficacy of the eye care team in treating patients.
The term “team” in the “eye care team” will become even more important than ever because AI will let an unprecedented level of appropriate delegation to team members with the requisite level of coaching and supervision.
Emerging AI systems also will enhance and be enhanced by telemedicine. AI-augmented systems in conjunction with telemedicine will undoubtedly reshape the eye care landscape within the coming years. This successively will likely cause increased access to specialized care, improved quality and performance measurements, increased teamwork, decreased patient waits times, and better patient outcomes overall.
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