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AOAExcel targets needs of ‘next-generation optometry’

July 23, 2012

AOAExcel, a new wholly owned subsidiary of the AOA, was formally established this month to develop an array of “next-generation” products and services that will increasingly be necessary for optometric practice in an era of sweeping health care reforms and rapidly evolving eye and vision care technology, according to a briefing on the project by AOAExcel Chair and AOA Past President Joe E. Ellis, O.D., at Optometry’s Meeting®.

AOAExcel products and services will be offered through a new website (www.ExcelOD.com), a “one-stop, online shop” that will also provide enhanced access to existing career planning, business management, practice marketing services, and programs such as the AOA Career Center, financial services support, insurance programs, health information technology (HIT)-related services, and coding/billing resources, Dr. Ellis said.

“This is both an exciting and challenging time for our profession. Today our members have to keep up with an ongoing parade of clinical advances and unprecedented change in health care delivery, while simultaneously assuring quality care for patients and the bottom line of practice success,” Dr. Ellis told the AOA House of Delegates.

“AOAExcel will meet the needs of next generation optometrists by providing, in a timely manner, all of the products and services they need to remain primary care providers in a health care system that is rapidly moving toward new care models, quality of care measurement, and value-based reimbursement,” Dr. Ellis told AOA News.

“AOAExcel will offer new products and services that may not be readily available in the market but which AOA may be uniquely suited to provide as a nationwide resource for the profession of optometry,” Dr. Ellis said.

The new AOA business unit is not intended to compete with product and service providers already in the market, he emphasized.

For example, AOAExcel will not be building or acquiring an EHR company, Dr. Ellis emphasized. However, AOAExcel may offer products that facilitate the use of EHRs, such as interconnectivity networks, that may still not be available to optometrists in many parts of the country, he said.

AOAExcel products and services are being developed primarily as benefits provided free of charge to AOA members. However, as with already-available AOA products and services, some may be offered to members as optional premium services for an additional fee, Dr. Ellis said. Selected products and services may be made available to both AOA member and non-member optometrists but with member optometrists enjoying substantial discounts on any fees.

Products and services offered through AOAExcel will be determined by demand among practicing optometrists. Dr. Ellis is urging optometric leaders at the national and state level to help shape the AOAExcel program by soliciting suggestions from optometrists on the new products or services that they feel will be critical to their practices over the coming years.

The AOAExcel product and service development initiative is being undertaken as part of a comprehensive business innovation plan implemented by AOAExcel Chief Executive Officer and AOA Executive Director Barry Barresi, O.D., Ph.D.

Multiple AOA program innovations have been undertaken to improve the membership value while ensuring long-term financial stability of the AOA.

“Our AOA culture of innovation is all about how to better serve members,” Dr. Barresi said.

AOAExcel will allow the AOA and its affiliates to continue focusing on advocacy, their primary mission, while increasing the value of association membership by better assisting optometrists with clinical and business issues, Dr. Ellis said.

“The next generation of optometry is about innovation, adaption, and the speed of change. AOAExcel is committed to provide the resources to move all of us to the next level of success, and to enable member OD practices to grow, succeed, and now, Excel,” Dr. Ellis said.

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