Patterns and Characteristics of a Clinical Implementation of a Self-Monitoring Program for Retina Diseases during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Ophthalmology. Retina. 2021;(12):1245-1253
PURPOSE We describe the large-scale self-initiated recruitment of patients to a self-monitoring initiative for macular pathologic features during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. DESIGN Observational study with retrospective analysis. PARTICIPANTS A total of 2272 patients from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) whose visits were rescheduled over lockdown (April 13-June 1, 2020) were offered participation in a self-monitoring initiative administered by SNEC with the Alleye application (Switzerland) as the testing instrument. METHODS This was an observational study with retrospective analysis. Demographics and characteristics were compared between those who signed up and those who did not. Similar comparisons were made between patients who complied with the initiative versus those who did not. Outcomes were tracked for 6 months starting from the commencement of lockdown. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Participation and compliance rates and characteristics of patients who were more likely to participate and comply with the initiative. RESULTS Seven hundred thirty-two patients (32%) participated in this self-monitoring initiative. Those who participated were younger (62 years of age vs. 68 years of age; P < 0.001), men, and living with family. Patients not receiving treatment and those with poorer vision in the worse-seeing eye were more likely to participate. When grouped according to diagnosis, the proportion who participated was highest for diabetic macular edema (52%), nonneovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD; 42%), diabetic retinopathy (35%), retinal vein occlusions (18%), and neovascular AMD (15%; P < 0.001). Testing compliance rate was 43% (315/732). Patients who complied with the initiative were older, were receiving treatment, and had poorer vision in the worse-seeing eye. Trigger events occurred in 33 patients, with 5 patients having clinically verified disease progression (1.6%). CONCLUSIONS We provide clinical data on characteristics of patients with stable retinal diseases who were offered, participated in, and complied with a self-monitoring program. The lower participation rate compared with standardized clinical studies reflects the difficulties in implementation for such initiatives in clinical settings. Despite this, self-monitoring continues to show promise in relieving clinic resources, suggesting the feasibility of scaling such programs beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.