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What you missed at AOA 2017


Catch up with what you missed at Optometry's Meeting in Washington, DC.

 Andrea Thau, O.D. and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) attend the American Optometric Association on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for American Optometric Association)

AOA visits Capitol Hill

Washington, DC-Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and the Chair of the House Republican Conference Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) joined more than 2,300 optometry students during a rally on Capitol Hill on June 21 during the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Optometry’s Meeting.

During the rally and in more than 250 meetings and events with Senators, House members, and staff, AOA member doctors and students urged Senators and House members to:

• Support the bi-partisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (HR 1606), also known as the DOC Access Act. The AOA and American Dental Association-backed legislation would empower doctors and patients in their dealings with insurance plans, eliminate a growing number of anti-competitive practices in health care, and help improve overall quality of patient care. The bill was introduced in March 2017 by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA).

View of the rally for the American Optometric Association on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for American Optometric Association)

• Vote to eliminate the health insurance industry's anti-trust exemption with the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (HR 372). The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department to “enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct.” The legislation, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (R-AZ), passed the House in March 2017 by a vote of 416-7.

Related: ODs must embrace new technologies, says AOA panel

• Prevent the FTC from implementing a proposal, developed under the previous administration, that would impose new paperwork burdens on doctors and patients while failing to address the predatory practices of online contact lens sellers that have the potential to harm patients and increase healthcare costs. This week, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) rolled out a bipartisan letter demanding that the FTC abandon this proposal.

• Uphold existing laws that assure access to in-person, comprehensive eye examinations, including essential pediatric eye health coverage and a ban on discrimination by ERISA and other plans.

"This week, doctors of optometry are making a difference in how elected officials, employers, the media and the public view our profession," says AOA President Andrea Thau. “Patient eye health is currently under threat by special-interest groups with a fiercely anti-optometry agenda. This is the time for all AOA doctors and students to speak out together for our practices and our patients.”

While in the nation’s capital, expanding veterans’ access to timely, quality eye and vision care was discussed at a roundtable. Participants included Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), the Blinded Veterans Association, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Armed Forces Optometric Society, and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

Up next: ICO earns bragging rights in Essilor Optometry Student Bowl


Students from Illinois College of Optometry Celebrate Winning the 2017 Essilor Optometry Student Bowl (Photo courtesy of Essilor)


ICO earns bragging rights in Essilor Optometry Student Bowl

Dallas-Students from 24 schools and colleges of optometry answered optometry-related questions while their classmates cheered them on while wearing war paint and school colors and displaying banners during the 26th annual Optometry Student Bowl, sponsored by Essilor.

In addition to bragging rights, the winning school, Illinois College of Optometry, took home $1,000 and a crystal trophy, renamed the “Ventura Cup” last year to honor Danne Ventura, FAAO, one of the event’s founders.

Related: In the pipeline: What’s new and what’s coming in optometry technology

The winning question: You are performing retinoscopy on a baby’s aphakic eye using loose trial lenses at a working distance of 40 cm. Your result is +22.50 DS at a vertex distance of 10 mm. What soft contact lens power should be ordered?

Answer: +25.00 D, provided by Taylor Harris, ICO class of 2018. 

Stephen Shawler, Dr. Howard Purcell, Dr. Janelle Routhie, Danne Ventura & Dr. Ryan Parker celebrate with the first, second and third place winners of the Essilor Optometry Student Bowl (photo courtesy of Essilor)

Second-place winner Fernando Elias from the New England College of Optometry, received $750, and third-place winner Brennen Yaquinto from The Ohio State University received $500. 

Each Student Bowl contestant received a Volk Pan Retinal 2.2 blue ringed lens.

Additional awards included: 

· Spirit Award: University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL), which will create next year’s rules video 

· Virtual Spirit Award: tie between: Kentucky College of Optometry and Northeastern State University at Oklahoma 

· American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) T-shirt design: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science (MCPHS) 

Up next: AOA launches health policy institute to advance profession 



AOA launches health policy institute to advance profession 

Washington, DC-To further its advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession and patients across the country, the American Optometric Association (AOA) launched the AOA Health Policy Institute (HPI), a policy think tank that will develop evidence-based research, analysis, and solutions in health care policy.

During his inaugural address to the AOA’s House of Delegates during Optometry’s Meeting in Washington, DC, AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, OD, underscored the importance of continuing to focus on healthcare policy as it relates to eye health care and the profession’s place in the overall healthcare arena.

Related: Dara Torres: Don’t put an age limit on your dreams

“It has become critical for us to provide our leadership and staff with improved tools and expertise to carry out our mission,” says Dr. Quinn. “By bringing experts from inside and outside of the profession, we can work carefully to analyze information and evidence and then use that material to guide policy development and advance our profession and patient eye health and vision care.”

HPI will be under the direction of AOA past president Steven A. Loomis, OD, and AOA staff member Rodney Peele, JD, as director.

According to Dr. Quinn, the AOA envisions that the HPI will build on and supplement the work begun by the National Commission on Vision and Health (NCVH) almost 10 years ago. The NCVH, a national, non-partisan group of public health leaders-including optometrists­-works to improve the nations’ visual health by helping assure access to vision care as an integrated part of public health programs at the national, state, and local levels.

“Policymakers and the public often need assistance from AOA to better understand how trends and changes in healthcare policy affect eye health and vision care,” says Dr. Quinn. “The Health Policy Institute will provide that expertise."

Up next: J&J announces Advocacy Academy



J&J announces Advocacy Academy

Jacksonville, FL-Johnson & Johnson Vision Care announced the launch of Advocacy Academy, an on-demand virtual learning tool to educate, empower, and mobilize eye health advocates to engage with lawmakers, agencies, and patient associations on topics impacting eye health.

The self-paced modules are designed with generational learning styles in mind and provide guidance to eye health professionals who have an interest in sharing their expertise and insights to effectively advocate for policies that put patients first. 

“So many eyecare professionals have asked me how to get involved: what they can do to make an impact,” says Carol Alexander, OD, director of professional communication, vision care, for Johnson & Johnson Vision in North America.

Related: Top patient medications and their ocular side effects

“It is exciting because there actually is so much we can do, but even a simple phone call, or sharing the right information with a network on social media can bring necessary attention to important issues in eye health,” she says.

Coinciding with the launch of Advocacy Academy, Johnson & Johnson Vision has revamped its Vision to Action website, formatting the site for easier search and quicker access to the most relevant resources.

According to the company, Vision to Action is the next-generation one-stop shop for resources that eyecare professionals, policymakers, and the public can use to stay updated on policy initiatives and proposals at the state and federal levels impacting eye health.

“As we continue to make progress with our advocacy efforts, we want to make it as simple as possible to equip eyecare professionals with the resources and information they need to become advocates, too,” says Millicent Knight, OD, vice president of professional affairs, Vision Care, for Johnson & Johnson Vision in North America.

“We are confident that the results of our combined advocacy efforts will continue to make a real impact for patients and doctors,” she says. 

Up next: Topcon Medical Systems launches research foundation



Topcon Medical Systems launches research foundation

Oakland, NJ-Topcon Medical Systems has established the Topcon Research Foundation (TRF), which will provide support for studies sponsored by independent investigators and institutions that utilize Topcon products to advance medical and scientific knowledge in the field of ophthalmology.

Researchers and institutions are invited to apply for a grant from Topcon by submitting their funding request and study details to www.topconresearchfoundation.com/.

Related: Treating and diagnosing myopia

“The Topcon Research Foundation closely aligns with Topcon’s mission of continually striving for excellence in product manufacturing through the development of innovative technologies,” says  Bob Gibson, vice president of marketing and product planning.

“By partnering with independent researchers, the foundation will allow Topcon to lend its support to studies that can generate valuable medical and scientific information which can eventually lead to improvements in clinical care, the development of new treatments, and better delivery of healthcare to patients,” he says.

Up next: EyeCare Prime launches Prime Nexus patient relationship management system 






EyeCare Prime launches Prime Nexus patient relationship management system  

Pleasanton, CA-EyeCare Prime has unveiled Prime Nexus, a next-generation, cloud-based patient relationship management system aimed at fostering more effective patient engagement and helping to drive practice growth. The Prime Nexus platform offers a simple, intuitive user interface, enhanced functionality, and new features to better meet the needs of eyecare practices and their digitally connected patients.

Prime Nexus was developed exclusively for optometry, based on years of collaboration with eyecare providers, according to the company. The system enables practices to maximize appointment booking, improve patient retention, and streamline office efficiencies to propel practice success.

Related: Understanding the role of inflammation in dry eye

New features include:

• Full sync and write-back appointment confirmations into compatible electronic health record (EHR) systems. When patients schedule appointments online, Prime Nexus seamlessly integrates with major practice management systems so online appointment confirmations are automatically updated in the practice’s calendar.

• Automatic post-appointment survey requests to patients via text message and email, increasing the likelihood of completion. Surveys are customizable for each practice.

• Streamlined online review posting and dedicated web page. Completed reviews can be automatically published to a dedicated practice review web page to save staff time.

• Personalized email campaigns. Prime Nexus offers a library of pre-written emails dedicated to eye care.  Practices can target groups of patients to ensure relevancy of content for each audience.

• Improved reporting and alerts. A new dashboard features key performance indicators for the practice, providing a snapshot of the practice’s performance at a glance.

“Over the last several years, we have partnered with eyecare professionals to determine what patient engagement features would result in more positive experiences for their patients and provide increased growth for their practices,” says Mark Lindsey, global general manager of EyeCare Prime. “Today’s connected patients are demanding more from their eyecare experiences, including online appointment scheduling and communications via text and email. Practices are looking for increased efficiencies. With Prime Nexus, we sought to meet all of those needs by developing a patient-centric system that is simple, smart, and effective.”   

Read more from AOA 2017 in Washington, DC here

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