Convenient New Eye Exam Leads to Early Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy; HAP the First Health Plan to Embrace This New Technology

Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from Health Alliance Plan

    DETROIT, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A revolutionary new camera is helping
 doctors diagnose a blinding disease at no additional cost to the patient or
 physician, and Health Alliance Plan (HAP) has become the first health plan in
 the nation to cover the service.  Already installed in several local
 physicians' offices, the DigiScope is a digital retinal camera used to detect
 diabetic retinopathy.  The disease causes retina damage due to small leaking
 blood vessels, which can lead to blindness in some diabetics.
     To encourage members to have this potentially sight-saving screening, HAP
 is the first health plan in the nation to include this technology as a
 benefit.  Used within the personal care physician's office, the DigiScope
 reduces time and cost in diagnosing a potentially irreversible disease.
     "We're excited to offer this simple sight-saving test for patients with
 diabetes as part of our continuing effort to improve the quality of care for
 diabetics, and make preventive services more accessible," said Mary Beth
 Bolton, M.D., HAP senior vice president and chief medical officer.  "Since the
 DigiScope can be conveniently located in the personal care physician's office,
 patients can be examined during a regular visit."
     Surprisingly, less than half of all diagnosed diabetics get an annual eye
 exam, which is critical to detecting diabetic retinopathy.  This disease, when
 undetected, causes uncorrectable blindness; when discovered early, however, it
 can often be treated successfully.
     Patient satisfaction is excellent.  A recent survey at six Detroit sites
 showed that 100% of patients said they would repeat the DigiScope exam.  The
 DigiScope takes digital pictures of the retina while the patients' eyes are
 dilated.  The pictures are sent via the Internet using the latest encryption
 technology to the EyeTel Reading Center, maker of the DigiScope, where trained
 readers analyze the digital pictures.  A report is sent to the HAP member's
 personal care physician's office within days.  If a problem is detected, the
 patient is referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment.
     "This technology complements ophthalmologists' services by identifying
 patients who truly need to be seen by a specialist," says Dr. Bolton.  "More
 importantly, it will improve the number of diabetics getting an early
 diagnosis."
     The EyeTel Reading Center operates its quality assurance program in
 collaboration with specialists at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins
 University in Baltimore, MD.
     Studies have shown that diabetes accounts for 12,000 to 24,000 cases of
 blindness annually.  About 20% of diabetics already have some eye damage when
 screened.
     "Significant vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy can be prevented even
 if the patient has no symptoms," explained Kevin Quinn, president, EyeTel.
 "In a recent study, 40% of the people who underwent the DigiScope exam have
 not had an eye exam in five years.  This system catches patients who do not
 even know they are at risk, helping to prevent serious irreversible damage."
     The DigiScope has already been installed in 10 HAP-affiliated doctors'
 offices in the greater Detroit area, Ann Arbor, Clinton Township, Detroit,
 Monroe, Rochester, Shelby Township, Southfield, St. Clair Shores, and
 Washington.  HAP expects to expand the program to Henry Ford Medical Centers
 and other HAP-affiliated physician networks within the next year.
     Headquartered in Detroit, HAP is a nonprofit health plan serving more than
 512,000 members and 4,000 employer groups.  HAP is a subsidiary of the Henry
 Ford Health System, one of the nation's leading regional health care systems.
 The National Committee for Quality Assurance awarded HAP's commercial HMO its
 highest honor, Excellent Accreditation.
     EyeTel Imaging, Inc. is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.  It is a
 medical services company that is committed to reducing the incidence of vision
 loss by improving the early detection of major eye diseases.
 
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SOURCE Health Alliance Plan
    DETROIT, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A revolutionary new camera is helping
 doctors diagnose a blinding disease at no additional cost to the patient or
 physician, and Health Alliance Plan (HAP) has become the first health plan in
 the nation to cover the service.  Already installed in several local
 physicians' offices, the DigiScope is a digital retinal camera used to detect
 diabetic retinopathy.  The disease causes retina damage due to small leaking
 blood vessels, which can lead to blindness in some diabetics.
     To encourage members to have this potentially sight-saving screening, HAP
 is the first health plan in the nation to include this technology as a
 benefit.  Used within the personal care physician's office, the DigiScope
 reduces time and cost in diagnosing a potentially irreversible disease.
     "We're excited to offer this simple sight-saving test for patients with
 diabetes as part of our continuing effort to improve the quality of care for
 diabetics, and make preventive services more accessible," said Mary Beth
 Bolton, M.D., HAP senior vice president and chief medical officer.  "Since the
 DigiScope can be conveniently located in the personal care physician's office,
 patients can be examined during a regular visit."
     Surprisingly, less than half of all diagnosed diabetics get an annual eye
 exam, which is critical to detecting diabetic retinopathy.  This disease, when
 undetected, causes uncorrectable blindness; when discovered early, however, it
 can often be treated successfully.
     Patient satisfaction is excellent.  A recent survey at six Detroit sites
 showed that 100% of patients said they would repeat the DigiScope exam.  The
 DigiScope takes digital pictures of the retina while the patients' eyes are
 dilated.  The pictures are sent via the Internet using the latest encryption
 technology to the EyeTel Reading Center, maker of the DigiScope, where trained
 readers analyze the digital pictures.  A report is sent to the HAP member's
 personal care physician's office within days.  If a problem is detected, the
 patient is referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment.
     "This technology complements ophthalmologists' services by identifying
 patients who truly need to be seen by a specialist," says Dr. Bolton.  "More
 importantly, it will improve the number of diabetics getting an early
 diagnosis."
     The EyeTel Reading Center operates its quality assurance program in
 collaboration with specialists at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins
 University in Baltimore, MD.
     Studies have shown that diabetes accounts for 12,000 to 24,000 cases of
 blindness annually.  About 20% of diabetics already have some eye damage when
 screened.
     "Significant vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy can be prevented even
 if the patient has no symptoms," explained Kevin Quinn, president, EyeTel.
 "In a recent study, 40% of the people who underwent the DigiScope exam have
 not had an eye exam in five years.  This system catches patients who do not
 even know they are at risk, helping to prevent serious irreversible damage."
     The DigiScope has already been installed in 10 HAP-affiliated doctors'
 offices in the greater Detroit area, Ann Arbor, Clinton Township, Detroit,
 Monroe, Rochester, Shelby Township, Southfield, St. Clair Shores, and
 Washington.  HAP expects to expand the program to Henry Ford Medical Centers
 and other HAP-affiliated physician networks within the next year.
     Headquartered in Detroit, HAP is a nonprofit health plan serving more than
 512,000 members and 4,000 employer groups.  HAP is a subsidiary of the Henry
 Ford Health System, one of the nation's leading regional health care systems.
 The National Committee for Quality Assurance awarded HAP's commercial HMO its
 highest honor, Excellent Accreditation.
     EyeTel Imaging, Inc. is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.  It is a
 medical services company that is committed to reducing the incidence of vision
 loss by improving the early detection of major eye diseases.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X74768364
 
 SOURCE  Health Alliance Plan