RetinaRisk and the United Nations SDGs
Digital health solutions and health information technologies are transforming the way healthcare is delivered in the 21st century. Telemedicine and digital diagnostics solutions empower patients to receive remote diagnostics in faster and more convenient ways. Electronic health records enable users to better manage health data. Innovative smartphone applications provide patients with effective treatment, prevention and disease management solutions for conditions ranging from diabetes to depression.
RetinaRisk is joining the crusade, offering innovative products to help transform the future of healthcare, by personalizing care based on individualized risk assessment. Our initial focus is on diabetic retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment in the world today, which can be prevented in over 90% of cases with early detection and timely treatment. We recognize that scientific and technological advances, including personalized screening methods and telemedicine, have tremendous potential to revolutionize eye care around the globe, including early detection, diagnosis, and timely treatment. We promote equitable access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable vision care, noting that delivery models differ among and within countries, and acknowledging the need for effective regulation, oversight and collaboration between governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
In September 2015, the United Nation General Assembly adopted 17 global “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) to stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity. These SDGs and their 169 targets envision transformational global change to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity. They integrate all three dimensions of sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. The universality of the SDGs – meaning that they are equally relevant for developing as for developed countries – makes them an important framework for all policy areas and their resourcing from domestic budgets, foreign investment, and international cooperation.
Can digital health solutions contribute to the implementation of the SDGs?
We say ‘Absolutely.” Our vision and priorities align with the SDGs’ blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We embrace each of the goals and support and contribute, directly or indirectly, towards several critical SDGs:
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
RetinaRisk is helping to address one of the key challenges that today’s societies are facing – the lack of personalized and readily-available healthcare. Today, only a small minority of the global diabetic population of 463 million has access to regular eye screening, which is essential for early detection of preventable diabetic eye disease.
According to the DR Barometer’s Global Findings Report, some of the key barriers include lack of trained healthcare professionals to carry out eye screening, the high cost of services, long wait times, limited availability of necessary health services, ill-equipped facilities, inadequate referral processes, reimbursement restrictions, long travel times and distance to clinics. Other major barriers listed were patients’ general lack of knowledge or awareness of diabetic retinopathy and the importance of regular eye screening, patients feeling that eye complications were unlikely, and patients fearing treatment or test results.
We’re developing novel technologies to tackle some of these barriers, meet clinical needs and promote disease mitigation, as we seek to help deal with an often-tragic effect of the global diabetes epidemic – vision loss and blindness. RetinaRisk is committed to expanding equitable access to care and helping people attain their full health potential, focusing on prevention and empowerment through individualized risk assessment.
By promoting personalized care, RetinaRisk is contributing towards enhanced clinical outcomes, particularly for high-risk patients who need more intense care. Using RetinaRisk to stratify patients into low-, medium-, and high-risk groups and subsequently adapting the eye screening intervals to each person’s risk profile, will result in enhanced clinical outcomes and considerable cost reduction.
We have long viewed virtual tools as a great equalizer, to allow wider access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. We’re committed to deliver solutions that break down barriers to access and cost disparities that too often prevent people from getting the care when they need it. We want to cut across social, economic, demographic, and geographic groups and help to create a world where everyone has an opportunity to attain their full health potential.
Goal 8: Promote productive employment and decent work for all
Innovative solutions like RetinaRisk’s can lead to higher levels of economic productivity and considerable healthcare cost savings, while enhancing health outcomes for patients and optimizing scarce healthcare resources. Decades of research have shown that RetinaRisk can streamline diabetic eye screening and make it far more efficient and cost-effective. Extensive clinical validation in over 30,000 diabetic patients has demonstrated that using variable intervals for diabetic eye screening, based on each person’s risk profile, can lead to savings of 40-60%. In high-prevalence countries, diabetic eye screening capacity can be enhanced by the same percentage.
Expenditure due to diabetes represents 11.5% of global health spending. According to the International Diabetes Federation, global health expenditure due to diabetes has grown from USD 232 billion in 2007 to USD 966 billion in 2021 for adults aged 20–79 years, or a 316% increase over 15 years. Most recent estimates foresee that total diabetes-related health expenditure will reach USD 1.03 trillion by 2030 and USD 1.05 trillion by 2045.
Several studies suggest that the cost of diabetic retinopathy significantly contributes towards total health care expenditures, which increase with the severity of the eye disease. The socio- and economic cost of eye disorders and vision loss worldwide is enormous, as these conditions often lead to chronic, life-long costs, which will balloon with an aging population and exploding healthcare outlays. A recent study estimated that vision impairment and blindness cost $411 billion in lost productivity per year, globally. In the absence of accessible, quality eye health services and inclusive environments, vision loss can impact individuals, households and communities in a multitude of ways.
As vision loss due to diabetes can be prevented in over 90% of cases with early detection and timely treatment, RetinaRisk’s solutions can play a leading role in limiting the economic burden of diabetic eye disease. RetinaRisk can help keep more people in the workforce, by preventing vision impairment and blindness, with individualized risk assessment and personalized care. RetinaRisk raises the awareness of the importance of regular eye screening and motivates enhanced diabetes control, producing healthier individuals.
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
RetinaRisk introduces a novel and innovative approach to healthcare. Today’s healthcare systems are often reactive, focusing on treatment even where there is enough data to prevent the progression of a given disease. Inefficiencies in healthcare systems contribute to spiraling costs, without enhancing clinical outcomes. Treatment standards are largely based on a population-wide approach rather than everyone’s need for intervention, care, and follow-up. RetinaRisk is changing this, with an innovative approach. We build risk models that predict future disease progression, based on available data points, and which enable timely intervention and prevention. Our products can drastically reduce healthcare costs and enable the right care at the right time for the right person. We deliver individualized insights and recommendations for each patient, regardless of population size.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Smartphone and AI-based solutions can help democratize access to medical expertise and clinically validated science. RetinaRisk brings the rigor of the scientific approach to personalize and economize healthcare to the patient, via a mobile application. Knowledge that was previously only available to healthcare providers is now readily available to patients in an easy-to-use mobile application. Making this analytical approach widely available to the global diabetic population will encourage much greater compliance with regular eye screening and better eye health.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
RetinaRisk is introducing a more sustainable and efficient approach to diabetic eye screening by enabling increased access and more personalized care. Using RetinaRisk will support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable approaches for screening millions of diabetic patients and prevent vision loss.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Virtual care is an environmentally sound way of growing the global healthcare system’s capacity. Our research has shown that using RetinaRisk´s variable intervals for eye screening, based on each patient’s risk profile, can reduce the frequency of avoidable doctor’s visits by 40-60%. Instead of the one-size-fits-all goal of annual eye screening for the entire global diabetic population of half a billion, RetinaRisk suggests appropriate intervals between eye screening appointments based on each patient’s risk profile. This means that high-risk patients may be screened more often than per the current annual yardstick, thereby significantly enhancing their clinical safety. At the same time, it may be enough to screen low-risk patients every 2-3 years, without compromising their clinical safety, leading to fewer unnecessary doctors’ visits and a reduction in carbon emissions.
RetinaRisk and ESGs
RetinaRisk´s corporate responsibility starts with our vision to create a “world without vision loss” for people with diabetes. It expands this core vision by considering environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors in our business activities. This will help us build long-term value for our company, while addressing global healthcare and sustainability challenges. While not the sole or primary consideration for business decisions, RetinaRisk is committed to:
- Incorporating ESG issues into our business decision-making processes
- Engaging with relevant constituencies on ESG issues
- Tracking and continually assessing opportunities to improve our ESG activities.
Our value of respecting each other, and succeeding together, guides us to foster a culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion, and encourages mutual respect, trust, and collaboration. People of all backgrounds, ages and gender rely on us for care and support, and we believe that the best way to serve those people and keep their trust is by leveraging and celebrating both our differences and similarities as a global team.
We encourage our employees to participate in, lead, and support initiatives that help meet social, economic, and cultural needs of our communities. We recognize that creating an equitable and inclusive workplace is a journey, not a destination or simply a tick in the box. We are dedicated to designing an environment that fosters a safe space for everyone to bring their whole self to work every day.
Know your risk of diabetic eye disease
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As we invest in the development of innovative technology that improves people’s health and lives, we equally prioritize ensuring that these solutions are ethical, safe, and equitable. We recognize that maintaining the privacy and security of customer data is not only the law, but also the right thing to do. We are committed to designing experiences and tools that protect customer privacy and safety, which are grounded in proven medical and data science, and that neither create nor reinforce unfair bias. RetinaRisk has developed a redundant and resilient platform to eliminate downtime to its operations when performing planned maintenance and upgrades. Overseen by our Chief Technology Officer, we have invested in a robust information security program.