Albertsons In-Store Clinics Launch AI-Powered Diabetes Exam

Bridget Goldschmidt
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Albertsons In-Store Clinics Launch AI-Powered Diabetes Exam
Nurses use an automated fundus camera to take pictures of a patient’s retinas, which are then scanned by IDx-DR's autonomous AI’s diagnostic software for signs of diabetic retinopathy

CarePortMD retail health clinics at Albertsons Cos. grocery stores can now administer an eye exam to identify diabetic retinopathy by FDA-cleared autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic system IDx-DR.

The in-store health clinics are the first to roll out this type of AI diagnostic technology. Albertsons has opened five CarePortMD clinics in Delaware and Pennsylvania stores over the past year.

“Artificial intelligence diagnostics like IDx-DR align seamlessly with our mission to increase the access, affordability and quality of health care,” said Ashok Subramanian, M.D., CEO of Newark, Del.-based CarePortMD. “We are proud to offer this service to our patients as part of our comprehensive diabetes care program.” 

IDx-DR employs AI to diagnose patients with diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, common complications of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. Although experts recommend annual eye exams to catch the disease in its early stages, only about 15% of Medicare patients actually undergo such exams, a study from the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Care journal has found. 

“Our goal is to ensure all patients with diabetes have access to the diabetic retinopathy exam so that we can improve patient outcomes,” explained Michael Abramoff, M.D., Ph.D., founder and CEO of Coralville, Iowa-based IDx. “More patients are getting their health care in retail clinics, so there is value in exploring the space. We were attracted to CarePortMD’s care coordination model; it’s critical that results make it back to the patient’s medical home and are triaged appropriately. This is a great opportunity to do AI the right way together.”

The exam normally takes 5 to 10 minutes. Nurses use an automated fundus camera to take pictures of a patient’s retinas (the back part of the eye). These pictures are then scanned by the autonomous AI’s diagnostic software, which looks for signs of diabetic retinopathy. An immediate diagnostic report is issued at the point of care, enabling a physician to discuss the results with the patient in the office right after the exam.

“What I’m most excited about is that the retinal exam provides a rich source of information, helping to identify patients who are at highest risk for complications of diabetes,” added Subramanian. “If we catch these high-risk patients earlier, it can result in significant savings for the health care system and better patient outcomes.”

IDx-DR is IDx’s first product. The company is currently developing additional AI-based diagnostic systems to detect macular degeneration, glaucoma, stroke risk and ear infection.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., which operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, is No. 3 on Progressive Grocer’s Super 50 list

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