Spotlight on Engagement: Yao Liu

Using teleophthalmology to increase diabetic eye screening rates

Lead Researcher: Yao Liu MD; Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Studies

What is the focus of your research?

Our goal is to increase diabetic eye screening rates and reduce blindness throughout Wisconsin using teleophthalmology. Teleophthalmology is the use of special cameras to take pictures of the back of the eye. This evidence-based technology has been well validated as a highly efficient and cost-effective method for diabetic eye screening.

How has stakeholder engagement helped your project so far?

We worked with CARDS in 2016 to obtain critical feedback on our patient interview guide to assess barriers and facilitators for teleophthalmology use. As a result, we made several important changes. These changes included incorporating pictures of different forms of diabetic eye screening in our interview discussion as well as simplifying and standardizing the language we used to describe screening methods. This made our interviews much more effective—allowing patients to simply point at pictures of each method of screening as they were responding to questions and to use consistent language in discussing these methods. We were able to avoid a lot of confusion and to enhance the quality of the data we obtained.

In addition, we have worked with WINRS in 2017 to establish our own patient stakeholder group. They helped us in every aspect of planning and execution, from envisioning our goals for the group and developing the recruitment materials, to facilitating our first meeting and putting together a post-meeting evaluation summary. They also helped design highly effective recruitment materials for our provider stakeholder group and Steering Committee.

What is a lesson you’ve learned from your stakeholder engagement work?

Investing significant time into detailed planning well in advance of stakeholder meetings is critical for ensuring a smooth, rewarding, and fun experience for your stakeholders. As academic researchers, we are often embedded in our own language and culture. It can be hard to communicate our ideas effectively with folks who are not directly engaged in our area of research on a daily basis. WINRS is especially good at helping you to deeply consider your audience and to be respectful of their time investment in your research. Ultimately, we want to ensure that we are communicating effectively in order to obtain stakeholder perspectives. These key perspectives will help make the knowledge we obtain as researchers as impactful as possible to the stakeholders we hope to serve.

What WINRS services have you used?

  • CARDS meeting to review a patient interview guide and informational handout
  • Consultation on strategies and materials to recruit the Diabetes Patient Advisory Council (D-PAC) and Steering Committee
  • Development and delivery of a targeted orientation program for D-PAC
  • Coaching for meeting facilitators to support effective meetings and sustained stakeholder engagement
  • Evaluation of D-PAC processes and outcomes (at end of project)