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RIC updates Ophthalmic Council on practitioner survey

April 2, 2013
Celebrity emcee Carson Kressley, at right, highlights style features of Kate Spade frames at the Safilo Fashion Show at International Vision Expo East.

Celebrity emcee Carson Kressley, at right, highlights style features of Kate Spade frames at the Safilo Fashion Show at International Vision Expo East.

AOA members earn more and have invested more heavily in electronic health records than nonmembers, according to the most recent surveys of practitioners. The survey, of more than 1,000 ODs, was presented to members of the AOA Ophthalmic Council™ at International Vision Expo East by Mark Colip, O.D., chair of AOA’s Research Information Center (RIC).

The average AOA member who owned his or her own practice in 2011 earned $170,059 in net income, $37,000 more than a nonmember who owned a practice. There was little disparity in incomes for nonowners, according to the survey.

The gender gap continues to narrow, but slowly, with women who have been in practice 11 to 20 years now making 99 percent of the salary of men, as of 2011. Dr. Colip reported women who have been practicing less than 11 years, or more than 20 years, still make on average less than 90 percent as much as men. Across all practitioners, the annual earnings for women is 79 cents per dollar earned by male counterparts. The annual median income among all female optometrists was $103,500, among all male optometrists $131,000.

Survey respondents reported a similar shift away from private practice as seen in other health care professions. In 2009, 72 percent of optometrists were in private practice. In 2011, only 53 percent of ODs were in private practice. Dr. Colip reported a corresponding increase in corporate practice and other practice types, but, he cautioned, because the AOA only started surveying nonmembers two years ago, the numbers could still be reflecting the change-over in survey population.

A significantly larger percentage of AOA member ODs (55 percent) have adopted complete EHRs than non-AOA member ODs (41 percent), with another 35 percent of ODs planning to acquire a complete EHR system in 2012. Utilization of e-prescribing alone jumped from 27 percent to 42 percent in 2012.

Complete reports on AOA RIC survey data can be obtained by contacting the AOA’s Research and Information Center at 800-365-2219.

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