The Future Landscape of Ophthalmic Diagnostics and Imaging

Feb 11, 2022
6 min read
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For more than 100 years, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. has focused its revolutionary technology on medical optics and ophthalmology, with the philosophy of putting the patient first in everything they do. With this at the core of their mission, ZEISS continues to evolve and expand the reach of healthcare and the scope of eyecare available throughout the world—not only through revolutionary technology innovation but with data-driven insights through the ZEISS Medical Ecosystem.

The ZEISS Medical Ecosystem offers a fully integrated environment where a combination of devices, data management, applications, and services continually drive improvement in patient outcomes.

As Head of Ophthalmic Diagnostics at ZEISS, Angelo Rago is excited to be at the forefront of these innovations and part of a team that is enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of imaging capabilities for doctors across the globe to enhance accessibility and improve patient care.

Our CEO and co-founder, Matt Geller, OD, sat down with Angelo Rago to get his thoughts on the current landscape of diagnostics and imaging and how that landscape is evolving.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is it about diagnostics and imaging that has always fascinated you, and why do you think so many doctors are captivated by having the latest device?

We need to put the patient at the center of everything we do. Imaging and diagnostics create an opportunity to bring the patient into the process and understand why the doctor is making the choices they're making to ensure they have the necessary treatments for improved vision.

The optometrists and ophthalmologists I’ve met have a passion for what they do. And when they're able to engage more effectively and efficiently with patients, utilizing tools like imaging and diagnostics, it enhances the entire healthcare experience for them and the patient. I believe that's why we're deeply invested in diagnostic technology. As innovators, it's an incredible privilege to create value for optometrists and ophthalmologists in the process of creating improved care for their patients.

If you're an optometrist or ophthalmologist starting your clinic, what should be your thought process prior to purchasing diagnostics and imaging equipment?

It should come from a patient-centric place with data-driven insights for better patient care, which is why we recently introduced the ZEISS Medical Ecosystem.

Read more about the ZEISS Medical Ecosystem.

When purchasing diagnostic and imaging equipment, your diagnostic decisions should follow the clinical strategy you have for your patients. Begin by thinking about how best to integrate these solutions into the ideal clinical workflow and how to use these data-driven insights they create to manage a patient’s disease over time. Once you understand what your strategy is for the practice, then you can start to make your decisions. There’s a breadth of technologies you can offer. Do I need an OCT-A? Do I need a fundus camera? It depends on who those key patients are that you want to serve.

How should doctors think about investing in equipment, as far as the long-term payoff rather than just thinking about the price tag?

Integrating new diagnostic and imaging equipment into your workflow creates new opportunities to unlock and unleash the capabilities of data in your practice, leading to creative business models that allow doctors to engage in their patients care in a deeper way without some of the traditional barriers.

Ophthalmology is one of the most data-rich segments in healthcare because everything depends on the images the devices create, and tens of millions of images are recorded by our customers each year. Connecting devices, data, and new software applications on one secure data platform brings all the images together in one place with seamless data access for a more effective and efficient workflow. The ZEISS Medical Ecosystem goes beyond the technology to empower doctors with data-driven insights that enhance their level of patient care.

For example, we recently launched the VELARA in the United States, which is not just a diagnostic device, but a complete end-to-end remote care solution for the management and screening of patients outside of a traditional ophthalmology setting.

What is the single most important diagnostic tool that you think ZEISS has to offer?

I am biased, but I would have to say that OCT is really one of the most powerful diagnostic technologies we've introduced. We were fortunate to be the first company to bring it to market. With the power that it has today, I think the proliferation of OCT technology will be even broader in the future, given our advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and remote care.

Where's the future of diagnostics and imaging heading over the next several years? And what does that mean for patients?

The future of diagnostics is about bringing diagnostic care to a deeper and broader demographic of patients than those who have traditionally had access to care and then further utilizing AI technology to link the diagnostic data to enhance and personalize patient care.

AI will be a great game-changer for diagnostics. Applying AI to a clinical workflow solution, will create a more efficient and effective doctor and patient experience—this is what we’re all striving for. There are many clinical problems to solve that diagnostics and AI technology can help us overcome through the actionable data it creates.

I believe diagnostic and imaging technology will be applied broader than just ophthalmology. For example, with a diabetic patient, an ophthalmologist may need to give advice on insulin testing or how to operate a pump. Think about how many comorbidities there are, and health systems are not going to be able to look at these as independent sequential elements anymore. Prohibitive cost is going to fundamentally change how our healthcare is managed.

If you could wave a magic wand and design any diagnostic device, what would it be?

I would love to have a clinical-level device in the future, like what we have in practices today, that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but have it fit in the palm of your hand, at a fraction of the cost, so we could expand patient care to those who don’t have access to quality eyecare.

Patient care is what drives ZEISS and why ZEISS continues to be an innovation leader for more than 175 years. We put the patient at the center of everything we do. Our mission is big, we have an incredible team, and right now we’re on turbocharge.

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About Angelo Rago

Angelo Rago is the Head of Ophthalmic Diagnostics at Carl Zeiss Meditec.

About Eyes On Eyecare Editorial Team

Led by Managing Editor Eleanor Gold, PhD, Eyes On Eyecare is a digital publication that provides clinical and career education to the young generation of optometrists and ophthalmologists. We work with eyecare professionals to create compelling, educational content available …

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