Why lifelong learning never stops

March 1, 2012

With International Vision Expo-East coming up, the need for CE is as strong today as it was two decades ago.

In previous columns, I've written about the metamorphosis of optometric CE during the past 2 decades. I'm amazed as I listen to colleagues lecturing about subjects I once would never have expected to learn about at one of our meetings.

Technology evolves

Government regulations

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act gives providers Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for "meaningful use" of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. But providers who fail to switch to EHRs by 2016 can be penalized with lower reimbursements.

Another example of how government regulation is impacting our practices is the Physician Quality Reporting System, formerly the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative. This voluntary reporting program offers an incentive payment to practices that satisfactorily report data on quality measures for services provided to Medicare Part B fee-for-service beneficiaries.

Then there is the move to ICD-10 codes (for International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision). Practitioners must be compliant with ICD-10 by October 1, 2013, when ICD-9 codes will no longer be used (although the American Medical Association has asked that the date be pushed back). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends that practitioners start ICD-10 testing with payers this year. Unlike ICD-9 codes, which mostly are numeric and have 3 to 5 digits, the ICD-10 codes will be alphanumeric, will contain 3 to 7 characters, and have more descriptions.

International Vision Expo-East will offer courses to help ODs select and implement EHR software and define a process for successful PQRS reporting.

Board certification exam

March is an ideal time to review for the board certification exam. The next exam from the American Board of Optometry is scheduled for July 15-31. International Vision Expo-East offers a Board Certification Review track.

Optical opportunities

The dispensary remains a prime source of income for clinical practices. Although many of us prefer to focus on the clinical aspects of practice, it's important to keep up with changes in lens designs and digital surfacing. This year's meeting offers several courses that discuss ophthalmic and contact lens technology, plus attendees can see the latest frame styles in the exhibit hall.

In future columns, I'll talk about the metamorphosis of CE beyond these courses. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you in New York.

Author Info

Kirk L. Smick, OD, FAAO, is chief of optometry services at Clayton Eye Center, Morrow, GA, and an owner of the facility. Dr. Smick also serves as a technical advisor to many companies in the ophthalmic industry and has helped pioneer several visual advances, including bifocal contact lenses.