WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Academy of Ophthalmology convened the first formal meeting of the Ophthalmic Advocacy Leadership Group (OALG) to collectively address ophthalmology’s most pressing advocacy issues. OALG represents the leadership of the ophthalmological subspecialty societies. The meeting took place on Jan. 16 in Baltimore, MD.
“Members of OALG have communicated informally over the years, and this face-to-face meeting provided an opportunity for the ophthalmic community to discuss important advocacy issues,” said H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., MD, executive vice president and CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “We are making great progress in achieving our goal of a unified advocacy voice for the ophthalmic community.”
Much discussion revolved around Medicare’s quality measures processes, and impending data registries that would make evaluation of physician performance more outcomes-based. A key outcome of the OALG meeting was the formation of an Academy work group made up of specialty representatives to establish a patient data registry for ophthalmology. As a first step, the work group will form a steering committee to define how a registry is developed and managed.
“Data registries are inherently complex and must be developed in a thoughtful, evidenced-based manner that accounts for the variations in case severity,” said Hoskins. “The Academy is pleased the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery has agreed to join and support this effort and we look forward to formal participation from all ophthalmic specialty societies.”
Each subspecialty organization committed to appoint one of their members for a long-term position to work with the Academy on reimbursement issues. The Academy’s Health Policy Committee would work with specialty societies through their representatives to solve reimbursement problems.
“The 5-Year Review Process for codes is an onerous process and can have an enormous impact on the reimbursement of our procedures,” said Michael Repka, MD, and the Academy’s secretary of federal affairs. “Experience, developed over time, is important and why we agree that is critical to have go-to physicians in each subspecialty society who are committed to learning the issues and being a part of the process over an extended period of time.”
The meeting ended with a review of scope of practice issues past, present and future, and the need to collectively fight optometric surgical scope expansion battles.
“Our patients' safety is at stake,” said Cynthia Bradford, MD, the Academy’s senior secretary for advocacy. “We cannot allow optometry to use legislative channels to gain surgical authority for which they are not trained.”
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org