Bausch and Lomb collaborates with IBM for an app to help cataract surgeons work better

by Dhiram Shah

Bausch + Lomb, a leading global eye health company, and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a collaboration to develop the first app of its kind for iPhone and iPad for surgeons who perform cataract surgery. The innovative app will help surgeons streamline their workflow by delivering patient information and clinical insights as well as intraocular lens (IOL) options on a single, digital platform at the point of care.

Cataract extraction is the most common surgical procedure among Medicare beneficiaries and cataract rates are on the rise1. Cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans and that number is expected to rise to 30 million by 20202. Cataracts – a clouding of the eye’s lens that can lead to blindness if untreated – affect approximately 70 percent of people by age 753. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens – an IOL.

Today, many cataract surgeons consult patient data in the operating room (OR) via print-outs or notes created during pre-op patient office visits, which can often be bothersome and inefficient. The new app from Bausch + Lomb will be designed to provide surgeons with access to information that patients have agreed to share, enabling doctors to plan their surgical interventions — including IOL selection — and have the option to view the information on digital devices or display screens on walls in the operating room during surgery.

The app will be designed to electronically manage patient data across iPhone and iPad while hosting health-related data on IBM Cloud Platform, Bluemix — a security rich, cloud-based environment — and relaying customized IOL options to surgeons that they will use to help enhance surgical planning and provide better patient care. The MobileFirst for iOS team, which is part of IBM Global Business Services, will design and develop this custom app for Bausch + Lomb to help drive innovation in healthcare. Bausch + Lomb’s vision is to optimize the app to collect data over time, resulting in a cognitive app that applies machine-based learning and predictive analytics to deliver real-time insights to surgeons.

By compiling each cataract patient’s information in the app — including IOL calculations, corneal topography and other biometry results as well as lifestyle preferences — surgeons and their staff may generate a comprehensive, integrated profile to help them facilitate IOL selection and procedure planning. Historical surgical data and other patient insights can also be housed within the app to potentially support positive clinical outcomes for future cataract.

“Bausch + Lomb is excited to collaborate with IBM to develop this innovative platform for ophthalmology,” said Andy Chang, senior vice president and general manager, U.S. Surgical, Bausch + Lomb. “By combining IBM’s advanced data management capabilities with Apple’s innovative app ecosystem and our clinical expertise, we are working to provide surgeons with a convenient, personalized tool that helps them better manage and access patient profiles digitally, and provide personalized IOL options. This unique relationship demonstrates Bausch + Lomb’s unwavering commitment to being a driving force in the ophthalmology industry by developing novel solutions that address the unmet needs of our customers and their patients.”

“IBM works closely with companies to deliver a mobile experience that transforms how professionals work across industries and we look forward to bringing the benefits of mobile technology to some of the world’s busiest surgeons — cataract surgeons,” said Mahmoud Nagshineh, general manager, Apple partnership, IBM. “Bausch + Lomb has identified a significant need in the ophthalmic community and the new app we will create will equip ophthalmologists with the data they need at their fingertips to help them make better, more informed decisions for their patients.”

“This new mobile solution has real potential to fundamentally change how our practice manages patient information throughout the cataract procedure, from planning through post-operative follow-up,” said Anil Shivaram, M.D., from Claremont Eye Associates in Claremont, CA. “Additionally, having the ability to access the variety of each patient’s surgical information on an iPhone or iPad will allow surgeons to streamline their time management and decision-making process. Allowing this mobile platform to organize and essentialize the numerous data sets that cataract surgeons must tackle with each case will also allow for refinement over time for each individual surgeon. By capturing, displaying, and analyzing the data over time in an iterative process, this app is expected to help surgeons provide better care and potentially help provide improved surgical outcomes, while at the same time increasing their efficiency.”

Pilot study testing for the new application is expected to begin in late 2016.