Testing visual acuity in the community using Peek

Peek: innovation to bridge the gap between providers and patients

Can mobile technology help us bridge the gap and deliver eye care to poor and remote settings?

80% of the 285 million visually impaired and blind people in the world who have treatable or preventable visual impairment live in low-income countries: often in rural and remote settings. How do you test and treat these people where expensive, bulky eye equipment is hard to come by or difficult to carry?

More people in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa have access to a mobile phone than they do clean running water (The New York Times, 2010). Can we harness the power of mobile technology to deliver eye care in a new way?

Peek is a social impact organisation working to radically increase access to eye care in some of the most challenging places in the world. Peek uses evidence-based solutions to deliver sustainable eye health combining innovative technology (such as smartphones), public health methodology and incentive based financing to ensure impact is created at scale.

Peek is an easy to use, affordable and portable system for identifying visually impaired people in the community and tracking them through the whole health system. It has been extensively tested and trialled. In places where traditional hospital equipment, which is bulky, expensive and fragile and dependent on scarce highly trained personnel, using Peek’s apps, hardware and connected systems make it possible to reach many more people by task-shifting. It enables non-medical professionals such as teachers and community healthcare workers to deliver eye care everywhere.

Is innovation the answer?

Patient awareness and local beliefs often prevent people from accessing eye care services. How do you think this technology can influence patient demand for services? Consider also that diagnosis in the field has to be followed up with good referral mechanisms. Can this be established or strengthened to cope with the demand that this technology may create?

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This article is from the free online course:

Global Blindness: Planning and Managing Eye Care Services

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine