Open Access Research article

Implementation and first-year screening results of an ocular telehealth system for diabetic retinopathy in China

Jinjuan Peng1, Haidong Zou1*, Weiwei Wang2, Jiong Fu2, Bingjie Shen2, Xuelin Bai2, Xun Xu1 and Xi Zhang1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Shanghai First People's Hospital, affiliated Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200080, China

2 Beixinjing community health service center, Shanghai, China

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BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:250  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-250

Published: 4 October 2011



To describe implementation and first-year screening results of the first Chinese telehealth system for diabetic retinopathy (DR) - the Beixinjing Community Diabetic Retinopathy Telehealth system (BCDRT).


BCDRT implementation was based on the acquisition of adequate digital retinographs, secure digital transmission, storage and retrieval of participants' data and reader-generated medical reports. Local diabetic residents meeting inclusion criteria were enrolled into the BCDRT system beginning in 2009. Participants recommended for further in-person examination with ophthalmologists were followed, and the consistencies in diagnoses between BCDRT and ophthalmologists for DR or macular edema were calculated.


A total of 471 diabetic residents participated in BCDRT screening in 2009. The proportions of total DR, proliferative DR, and diabetic macular edema were 24.42% (115 patients), 2.12% (10 patients) and 6.47% (24 patients), respectively: 56 patients consulted ophthalmologists for further in-person retinal examination with funduscopy after pupil dilation. High rates of consistency between BCDRT screening and ophthalmologists were observed for macular edema (Kappa = 0.81), moderate or severe non-proliferative DR grade (Kappa = 0.92), and other DR grades (Kappa = 1). A total of 456 (96.82%) patients were willing to participate in the next BCDRT screening.


BCDRT was a reliable and valid system for DR screening, and offers the potential to increase DR annual screening rates in local residents.