American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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The Academy’s Brand-New Online Store
The Academy announces its new online store (at www.aao.org/store), with an updated design, improved functionality, and a user-friendly interface. As part of the Academy’s commitment to member satisfaction, the store incorporates features for a seamless shopping experience, allowing the user to do the following:
Use EyeNet’s New URL
Be sure to visit EyeNet online each month to:
Please refer to the Governance Documents special section to read the proposed amendments to the Academy Bylaws and Code of Ethics.
Q: Concerns have been raised about one partner in our large, multisubspecialty group practice potentially engaging in unethical practice. If he is reported to the Ethics Committee, to what extent is he obligated to respond to the allegations?
A: If he is an Academy member, then he is expected to cooperate fully.
The preamble of the Administrative Procedures in the Academy’s Code of Ethics states: “All ophthalmologists who are Fellows or Members of the Academy … are required to comply with these Administrative Procedures; failure to cooperate with the Ethics Committee or the Board of Trustees in a proceeding on a challenge may be considered by the Committee and by the Board of Trustees according to the same procedures and with the same sanctions as failure to observe the Rules of Ethics.”
It is in everyone’s best interest to participate in the resolution of an ethics challenge. If a member does not respond or hinders the committee’s investigation by willful and unexcused delays, the matter is referred to the Academy Board of Trustees with a recommendation of sanctions for noncompliance with the Administrative Procedures of the Code of Ethics.
If the member resigns from the Academy in order to avoid responding to a challenge, then that challenge is dismissed without further action by the Ethics Committee or the Board of Trustees, and the record is sealed. However, the member may not reapply for membership in the Academy under any circumstances. If the subject matter of the closed investigation was related to patient care, the Academy is required by law to report information to the National Practitioner Data Bank and other such entities.
For more information or to submit a question, contact the Ethics Committee staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read the Code of Ethics, visit www.aao.org/ethics.
Beginning Your Residency? Get Free AAOE Membership
If you started your residency this year, you should have received notification of your free membership in the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE). Your benefits include a wealth of practice management news and advice on the AAOE website, practice management e-newsletters, and access to the AAOE’s listservs.
Who else gets free AAOE membership? Academy members who are in fellowship training and those who are in their first year of practice.
For more information, visit www.aao.org/joinaaoe.
Improve Patient Recall With Academy Brochures
It has been reported that 40 to 80 percent of medical information relayed by health care practitioners is forgotten immediately.1 Support your verbal communications with patients and help them remember information about their condition and treatment options by providing them with patient education brochures from the Academy.
The Academy’s illustrated brochures are peer reviewed, and they are written at the 5th to 8th grade reading level, which is recommended for documents for the general public, particularly those relating to health and medicine. The various brochure topics range from cataract surgery to LASIK and uveitis.
A package of 100 brochures costs $32 for members and $40 for nonmembers.
To view brochure topics and to order, visit www.aao.org/store and search “Brochures.”
1 Kessels R. J R Soc Med. 2003;96(5):219-222.
Preorder AAOE’s 2013 Coding Products
Increase your coding competency, reduce claims denials, and prepare for the ICD-10 with coding products from the AAOE.
The ICD-10 for Ophthalmology is $78 for members and $130 for nonmembers; the Ophthalmic Coding Coach is $235 for members and $390 for nonmembers; the CPT Pocket Guide for Ophthalmology is $43 for members and $70 for nonmembers; the Ophthalmic Coding Series: Essential Topics is $285 for members and $475 for nonmembers; and the Ophthalmic Coding Series: Specialty Topics is $285 for members and $475 for nonmembers.
To order, visit www.aao.org/codingproducts.
CMS Proposes Preliminary Medicare Pay Increase
In July, CMS published the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule, which estimates that ophthalmologists will see a preliminary, overall 1 percent pay increase in 2013.
This increase is due to continued implementation of updated practice expense data in the CMS fee schedule, a process that started in 2010 after a campaign by the Academy and 20 other groups. However, this increase is contingent on Congress halting a scheduled 27 percent cut in Medicare physician pay on Jan. 1. The 27 percent cut is caused by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which is universally believed to be faulty.
In the proposed rule, CMS focuses on global surgical payments to ophthalmologists and calls on the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee to review older codes. CMS asserts that the payments for these codes, including 66180 Aqueous shunt, 67036 Vitrectomy, and 67917 Repair of ectropion, may be misvalued and reflect postoperative visits that are not actually provided.
Ophthalmology codes are also being added to a CMS list of services likely to be cut when two diagnostic tests are billed by the same physician on the same day for a patient. These reductions are appropriate, CMS asserts, because of the duplicate practice expense that occurs when two services are performed together. During its review of diagnostic tests, CMS found that codes 92235 Fluorescein angiography and 92250 Fundus photography are frequently billed together, prompting the agency to review all of ophthalmology’s diagnostic services. CMS has determined that the technical component of some ophthalmic services should be reduced by 25 percent for the second procedure, including eye ultrasound codes and all visual field and OCT tests.
The Academy is pushing the agency to reconsider the reduction to ocular diagnostic testing codes. The Academy argues that the technical component of one imaging or diagnostic test is unique and separate from any other; and each has its own requisite amount of staff resources, expenses, and documentation. CMS’s proposed cut for a second procedure on the same day could lead to unintended consequences, the Academy believes, such as increasing the number of patient visits.
During the Joint Meeting in Chicago, the Academy will have a Special Session on the 2013 Medicare Update on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m.
Members at Large
State Societies Team Up on Regional Meetings
Two regional ophthalmology meetings illustrate the benefits of collaboration between state societies.
“I’m glad that the regional meeting concept has taken off,” said Daniel J. Briceland, MD, Secretary for State Affairs, adding that the Academy Secretariat for State Affairs has consistently encouraged state ophthalmology societies to consider partnering on regional meetings to take advantage of economies of scale and to more easily attract nationally recognized speakers. “Since medical organizations are forced to compete for industry support of their local meetings, regional meetings are beneficial in that everyone gets sponsorship—otherwise, there may not have been enough to go around for each individual state meeting. Additionally, this setup provides extra value for ophthalmologists from contiguous states,” he said.
Dr. Briceland, who is also on the board of directors of the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC), noted that OMIC policyholders who are members of ophthalmic societies with an OMIC educational alliance earn a 10 percent risk management discount when they complete an approved OMIC risk management event, which both of these regional meetings offer.
For more information on state, subspecialty, and specialized-interest society annual meetings, visit www.aao.org/meetings/sub_meetings.cfm.
On June 23, Emanuel Newmark, MD, received the John R. Brayton Jr., MD, Leadership Award at the Florida Society of Ophthalmologists’ annual meeting in Orlando.
This award recognizes a Florida ophthalmologist who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to ophthalmology. Dr. Newmark has degrees from Rutgers and Duke, as well as more than 40 years of experience in treating medical and surgical eye issues.
Robert H. Osher, MD, received the Kelman Award at the Brazilian Congress of Ophthalmology in São Paulo in June.
This award recognizes significant contributions in the field of cataract surgery. Dr. Osher is a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati, and Medical Director Emeritus of the Cincinnati Eye Institute. He is also the founder and editor of the Video Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
Who’s in the News
Robert J. Campbell, MD, and John O. Mason, MD, were interviewed by the Canadian Press news agency (Toronto) for a July 4 article on a study indicating that intravitreal Avastin and Lucentis do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (as Avastin has been reported to do when used intravenously to treat cancer). The study, performed by scientists at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, is published in the medical journal BMJ.
Dr. Campbell said, “These findings are highly significant because while we’ve seen explosive growth in the use of both drugs worldwide, our understanding of the safety risks is incomplete.” He added that it is important to spend more time researching groups such as diabetics, who have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.