Retail health clinics have been part of the trend in making healthcare more convenient, and now another option is being offered — testing for diabetic retinopathy.

However, an ophthalmologist won't make the diagnosis at the clinic; instead, it will be made by an artificial intelligence (AI) system called IDx-DR. Testing will be offered through CarePortMD, the first retail health clinic to adopt this type of AI diagnostic technology, and offered at clinics inside Albertsons grocery stores. The second largest grocery chain in the United States, Albertsons added five CarePortMD clinics to stores in Delaware and Pennsylvania this past year.

"Ours is a hybrid model of telehealth plus the convenience and access of a retail clinic, with the scalability and opportunity to coordinate with telemedicine." said Ashok Subramanian, MD, the CEO of CarePortMD. "Our clinic has diagnostic equipment, point-of-care testing with a full complement of laboratory testing, and virtual connection to an urgent care doctor or a primary care provider or a specialist and an onsite clinical pharmacy staff.

Although the IDx-DR exam is not performed by a physician, it is also not a self-service device like blood pressure cuff machines that are seen in some retail outlets. By prescription only, it is administered by the clinic staff.

"It is important to understand CarePortMD is a primary care visit hosted within a retail setting," said Michael D. Abramoff, MD, PhD, founder and president of IDx and a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "Primary care physicians place orders for the IDx-DR diabetic retinopathy exam just like a physician in a traditional clinic setting as part of their diabetes management."