Telemedicine is here. I have a favorite painting in my office of a typewriter. Call me old fashioned but I left high school for college with a “new” Smith Corona typewriter with the ‘correcto’ lift off ribbon—pretty high tech for the day. I can’t tell you how many papers, I edited and retyped. Having graduated in English, the typing and cutting with scissors and pasting for final paper typing was a rite of passage. By my sophomore year, the first Apple computer arrived in the dormitories—little boxes for students to try. I was what Apple would call “an early adopter”. Less than 13.5% of the population is an early adopter of “new ways”, especially technology. Some of you may still hold on to your telephones attached to the wall socket—you are laggards and represent 16% of the population. In health care, systems have to be validated as the “standard of care” before improvements are viewed as true improvements. I like to remind myself that today’s innovation is tomorrow’s gold standard.
Telemedicine holds the promise of new technology replacing health care workers and detecting disease earlier. In ophthalmology, we hope to develop a mobile eye van with sophisticated screening cameras that allow an eye exam without dilation.
Initially, we have to prove that this high tech screening model is EQUIVALENT to a dilated eye examination in a doctor’s office. This process is called validation. If we can validate this with a sophisticated model, we can then develop lower cost devices to replace these high cost devices.
At Red Rover Ventures, we believe that screening for vision loss and vision health is a basic health care right. Without vision, many life tasks become more difficult– learning education, working, driving. We can’t put a price on vision. The hope is that the mobile unit would detect disease and prevent blindness and become tomorrow’s gold standard.