Adapting to Innovation: Integrating Eye Tracking Metrics into Your Clinical Practice

Through the process of discovery and innovation, the evolution of clinical practice affords clinicians the opportunity to gain new skills and improve decision making as a result of new, high-fidelity patient data collected and enhanced workflow these opportunities create. Today, however, we have seen a glut of emerging technologies, diagnostics, and equipment create confusion in an undefined marketplace, which in turn has made it difficult for many to identify the true cost-benefit to their organization and ultimately what is of substantive value to their patients that doesn’t already exist.

So how do you separate fact from fiction to successfully integrate novel technologies into your clinical practice? I for one, have always relied on the following criteria:

  • Established clinical evidence
  • Objective, reliable system/data that has been validated
  • Easy to use, integrate, and understand
  • A clear value-add that cannot be replicated by alternate means

Utilizing this approach allows decision makers to not just identify the best mechanism to integrate novel tools, but to position these tools inside the organization for maximum benefit. By completing this needs assessment thoroughly, many can realize the impact of a successful deployment.

Why Eye Tracking Metrics Are Important

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked frequently, “So, why are your objective metrics important? I’ve been successful at what I do for so long, do I really need this?” I stop short of saying you don’t always know what you don’t know, but as I referenced in my previous post, the simple explanation is that these data allow the clinician to visualize something that they have yet to see entirely through a standard clinical evaluation.

When properly administered, objective eye tracking metrics can provide powerful insight into the real-time assessment of patients and offer valuable data that previously did not exist.

By utilizing data gathered in support of a medical diagnosis, clinicians can not only be better informed about the disposition of their patient, they can also benefit from a systematic approach to the ruling in and out of various impairments known to increase the risk of injury, and to correspond this to the appropriate treatment interventional strategy. Simply making a diagnosis and monitoring the patient’s subjective complaints can no longer be constituted today as best practice.

Once the impairment has been identified and the appropriate remediation steps undertaken, eye tracking metrics can work serially in support of validating the clinician’s treatment approach and assisting the clinician in ensuring the impairment has resolved and the progression of return to activity has been assured as the next safest course of action.

The Value of Immediate Data

The next question I get asked a lot is usually something like this – “Why do I need to identify visual impairments when I have access to specialists that can eventually find them for me?” For this answer, let’s look at recent case example in the world of professional soccer.

Loris Karius, the German netminder for the Champions League runner-up Liverpool FC, received substantial criticism for allowing three goals during the final to an uber-talented Real Madrid side. Two of the goals allowed seemed so egregious that many questioned his future with the club almost immediately after the game ended. For those that watched the game, many knew he had been subjected to a significant impact during the game which many believed had some effect on his performance. However, it was not until FIVE DAYS after the final that his condition was identified when he was flown to the US and evaluated by our partners at Mass General Hospital in Boston (as a side note: I did not discuss nor was I involved in the management of this case, my understanding of the case is based on what has been publicly disclosed to date).

Using Karius as a proxy, my response to this scenario is simple – if we have access to reliable tools to assess and identify visual impairments, why not deploy them immediately at the point of care? Why wait until the patient’s progress stalls or their subjective complaints prompt us to refer them to a specialist days or even weeks later? As we all know, the sooner we identify and treat the impairment, the sooner the patient can return to normal daily life and the more likely they are to avoid many of the secondary sequelae of injury that can develop post-traumatically.

Cases like Karius’ serve to pinpoint the value in integrating a novel technology like ours into clinical practice and in support of patient care for maximum benefit to the organization. The successful implementation and utilization of eye tracking metrics is a mechanism I benefitted from firsthand throughout my exposure to EYE-SYNC while caring for patients at Stanford. Today, we are also seeing the interest in eye tracking assessment being thoroughly explored like never before in the scientific community through neurodegenerative, military, and athletics research.

It’s All About Orientation

By integrating the measurement of eye tracking performance into our protocols, we can be assured that participants are both ready to perform and not subject to increased risk exposure in their daily activities. Furthermore, by objectively measuring orientation immediately after a suspected impairment, we can intervene in a timely fashion to prevent performance decline, and create the justification needed for a specific, individualized treatment approach to target the very next day.

By proactively adapting to innovation, we as clinicians benefit from being the ones to validate the scientific and clinical utility of the latest innovations, while adding the integration and deployment knowledge to our skillset. It’s hard for me to think of a better win-win scenario for both the patient and the caregiver.