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Flaum Eye Institute receives grant to fund telemedicine program

By KATIE BURGSTROM - 6/5/2013 3:10:52 PM

The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Flaum Eye Institute received a $600,000 grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation in support of Rochester Area Tele-I-Care, a pilot telemedicine program.

The program links the eye institute, the Department of Ophthalmology at Rochester General Health System and primary care physicians to help identify diabetic patients at the risk of vision loss in Rochester’s poorest neighborhoods. It aims to increase screening rates for the diabetic population from 10 percent to 80 percent, officials said.

Rajeev Ramchandran M.D., a retinal specialist leading the Tele-I-Care program, said the grant “increases the ability to screen for diabetic retinopathy in our poorest communities,” and “will also identify those patients with vision threatening retinopathy early on to allow for timely vision-saving treatment.”

Operating at three Rochester General Health System practices, the program is expected to have a significant impact. 

“(It) will provide screenings and on-going medical and ophthalmologic care for diabetic patients at risk will make a significant improvement in the quality of life of our patients’ lives,” said Gwen Sterns M.D., chief of ophthalmology at RGHS.

Imaging experts from Rochester Institute of Technology and physicians from Rochester General are partnering with URMC on the project, which will continue for the next three years. It is estimated that 5 percent of the 1,000 patients served through the program would have likely experienced vision loss or blindness without the screenings, officials said.

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