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Record-setting Presidents’ Council addresses trends, challenges

January 29, 2013
AOA Federal Relations Committee Chair Roger Jordan, O.D., discusses advocacy successes, including the pediatric vision care benefit, the Harkin Amendment, glasses and contact lens exemption from the medical device tax, meaningful use incentives and optometry’s inclusion in ACOs.

AOA Federal Relations Committee Chair Roger Jordan, O.D., discusses advocacy successes, including the pediatric vision care benefit, the Harkin Amendment, glasses and contact lens exemption from the medical device tax, meaningful use incentives and optometry’s inclusion in ACOs.

In the largest gathering of its kind yet, a record 177 leaders of state and affiliated optometric associations convened in St. Louis at the 2013 Presidents’ Council to identify trends, plan for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and share ideas for building their associations.

Attendees exchanged information about what works and doesn’t work for their associations at the Jan. 18-19 meeting moderated by Chris Wroten, O.D.

It was the first time the entire AOA Executive Committee was invited to the conference, noted AOA President Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH, who spoke about AOA and affiliate successes and challenges facing the profession.

“The AOA is here to help as you fight these battles,” he told those gathered.

He specifically mentioned scope of practice issues and kiosk-based refracting businesses.

Advocacy update

Committee chairs Steve Montaquila, O.D., Roger Jordan, O.D., and Bobby Jarrell, O.D., presented on “Advocacy in the Changing Health Care Marketplace.”

“Things are changing, and we need to change with them,” said Dr. Montaquila.

The group discussed the expansion of Medicaid, the effects of the Harkin Amendment, and optometry’s inclusion in Accountable Care Organizations. The top priorities remain patients and access.

Optometric registry

AOA Board members respond to member questions at Presidents’ Council. From left, Secretary-Treasurer Steve Loomis, O.D., Vice President David Cockrell, O.D., President Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH, President-elect Mitch Munson, O.D., and Immediate Past President Dori Carlson, O.D.

AOA Board members respond to member questions at Presidents’ Council. From left, Secretary-Treasurer Steve Loomis, O.D., Vice President David Cockrell, O.D., President Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH, President-elect Mitch Munson, O.D., and Immediate Past President Dori Carlson, O.D.

AOA Registry Committee Chair Jeff Michaels, O.D., offered an informative and compelling breakdown of what the registry is and why optometrists should care about it.

“It will help improve care, educate patients, help the AOA educate the public, and improve reimbursements,” he said. “It helps outcomes and treatment.”

The registry is a collection of data and is designed to provide more analysis than an EHR does. It does not share personal information.

For more details on the registry, visit http://bit.ly/TH9s9n.

State issues

In several “open mike” sessions, state leaders talked about issues with an impact beyond state lines.

Richard Yardley, O.D., from Utah shared the latest news concerning free-standing kiosks that can measure refractive error and pupillary distance, and allow on-the-spot self-service eyewear ordering.

He noted current laws prohibiting prescribing without a license ensure patients are seen by a licensed eye care provider. However, it appears those laws may come under attack by well-funded health companies, and Utah may be one of the first states in which the attacks surface.

AOAExcel™

The Presidents’ Council got a firsthand look at the member benefits of AOAExcel™.

Aly Wasik, O.D., president of the Armed Forces Optometric Society, suggests partnering with the American Public Health Association for patient education campaigns.

Aly Wasik, O.D., president of the Armed Forces Optometric Society, suggests partnering with the American Public Health Association for patient education campaigns.

“About three years ago, our board started looking down the road, and said they needed to help members in everyday practice,” said Joe Ellis, O.D., chair of AOAExcel™. “Excel is an extension of our access center and advocacy efforts,” he said. “Our goal is to facilitate success in practices. We are going to help our members thrive, succeed and excel in their new environment.”

Barry Barresi, O.D., Ph.D., AOA executive director and chief executive officer for Excel™, was on hand to discuss products and services, including business and career services, the XNetwork portal and future integrated marketing services.

“It’s a great opportunity for optometry and the AOA to provide something of value to our members,” he said.

Dr. Barresi also introduced Ian Lane, O.D., Excel’s chief medical information officer, who explained the XNetwork in greater detail. More information will follow when it is officially launched in June.

Keynote address

The co-author of “Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations,” Mary Byers, offered a bold, no-nonsense look at the realities of associations today and what it will take to prosper in the future.

Byers said associations need to focus on “how we can help members work less stressfully, more profitably, and more productively.”

Continuing education

Dr. Talley

Dr. Talley

Also offered at the meeting for the first time was a COPE-approved continuing education course, “Trends & Technology in Optometry’s Future,” by David Talley, O.D. Some of the trends addressed by Dr. Talley included the continued expansion of optometrists using medications, lasers and injectables for diagnostic and treatment purposes and minor surgical procedures involving the eye and adnexa.

Dr. Talley encouraged all optometrists to practice to the full scope of their licenses and keep up with the latest technology. “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail,” he explained.

The genomics revolution, including gene chip technology, antisense drugs and ocular gene therapy, will play a large role in future technology, according to Dr. Talley. He also discussed radio and plasma surgery advances.

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