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• What’s Happening
• FYI
• Washington Report
• Academy Store
• Meeting Matters
• Members At Large

What’s Happening

Top Practice Problems: 2005 Survey Results
Every two years, the Academy sends a questionnaire to a random sample of its membership. Over the next few months, EyeNet will use the 2005 survey1 to highlight trends in Eye M.D.s’ concerns and practice patterns.

  • Four familiar frustrations. This year, as in 2003, the top four practice problems include concerns about reimbursement levels, high practice costs, administrative hassles and the challenges of keeping up with insurance guidelines and utilization rules. These problems are consistently identified as major concerns for ophthalmology.
  • Reimbursement concerns. “Due to the faulty SGR formula, Medicare physician payment is slated for future decreases,” said Academy Secretary for Member Services Ruth D. Williams, MD. “The congressional fee fix for 2003 to 2005 supplied temporary relief, but the uncertainty of reimbursement levels persists. A possible fee fix, but tied to performance measures, is pending.” It is critical that ophthalmologists have future fee schedules that are fair and predictable.
  • Staff shortages are a growing problem. “Academy members are increasingly concerned about finding and retaining qualified staff,” said Dr. Williams. “As technology develops, ophthalmology becomes increasingly dependent on well-trained technicians to perform complex tests and take measurements. With more sophisticated technology, the training process of new staff is more rigorous and time-consuming and a well-trained technician has increasing value to the practice.” In addition, limited reimbursements and rising administrative costs push ophthalmologists to rely on technical support staff.
  • HIPAA less of a headache. “While administrative hassles are still a major concern, the data suggest that this problem is lessening,” said Dr. Williams. “As practices ease into the routine of HIPAA requirements, the hassles may feel less burdensome.”

2005 Survey Results
Survey Results
Caption: When a large group of U.S. members was asked about 13 potential practice problems, the above five issues were most frequently identified as being either “very” or “somewhat” serious problems. The other issues were cost of malpractice insurance (66 percent), denial of payment by managed care plans (62 percent), implementing regulatory requirements such as HIPAA (55 percent), uninsured patients and uncompensated care (53 percent), external review and limitations on clinical decisions (40 percent), emergency room coverage and call (35 percent), obtaining malpractice insurance (28 percent) and staying abreast of clinical trends and skills (22 percent).

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1 This survey was sent to 2,200 U.S. practicing members, 854 of whom responded. The sampling error is +/– 3.4 percent. Separate surveys were sent to U.S. members-in-training and international members.

President Bush Honors Key Figure in Launch of EyeCare America
The White House has honored B. Thomas Hutchinson, MD, by presenting him with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

In 1985, Dr. Hutchinson helped found the Academy Foundation’s National EyeCare America Project, which is now known as EyeCare America. In the last two decades, EyeCare America and its corps of volunteer Eye M.D.s have helped more than 760,000 people.

EyeNet Ranks High in Independent Study
Which ophthalmic periodical do you read most thoroughly? An independent research company asked a random sample of U.S. Eye M.D.s about the major magazines, tabloids and peer-revieweds.1

Of 18 periodicals, EyeNet ranked first for thorough readers (those who read it cover-to-cover) and second for frequent readers (those who read at least three out of every four issues).

The survey is conducted annually by PERQ/HCI, which then sells the data to industry.

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1 PERQ/HCI FOCUS Eyecare 2005, Ophthalmologists, Table 701 (www.perq-hci.com).



FYI

Go Online for Results of Academy Election
Elections were held to determine four positions on the 2006 board of trustees and proposed amendments to the Academy’s bylaws. The results are posted at www.aao.org/elections.

Want to suggest a candidate? Read January’s EyeNet to find out how you can participate in the nomination process for the 2007 board.

Now Online—EyeCare Volunteer Registry
Did you ever want to change the world? Be an international volunteer and you can.

The EyeCare Volunteer Registry can help you get started by providing you with information on volunteer sites in developing nations that need assistance. Learn about sites that match your particular interests and skills, including geographic preference, length of service, type of service (teaching, clinical) and specialized training and experience (subspecialty skills).

Search the registry to find a suitable situation for your next working vacation.

To find out more, visit www.eyecarevolunteer.org.

Renew Your Academy Membership for 2006
By now you should have received your membership renewal packet in the mail. Renew immediately so you can take full advantage of all the benefits of Academy membership. To ensure uninterrupted benefits, your Academy membership dues must be paid by June 1, 2006.

To renew your membership online, please visit www. aao.org. You can also renew by mail, fax or phone, as specified in your renewal packet.

If you have any questions, please contact Member Services by phone, 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8581, by fax, 415-561-8575, or by e-mail, member_services@aao.org.

Use Audioconference to Hear the News on 2006 Coding Rules
The upcoming AAOE-sponsored audioconference—2006 Ophthalmology Coding Update—will offer participants instruction on how the new 2006 rules and regulations will affect your practice and your income.

The audioconference will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 10, from 11 a.m. to noon PST. You only need to make one payment—$115 if you are an AAOE member and $150 if you are a nonmember —regardless of the number of people listening in your office.

The course offers one hour Category 1 CME for physicians.

To register, visit www.aao.org/audioconference.

Need Coding Advice? Codequest Experts Are On the Road
2006 Codequest Ophthalmic Coding College seminars educate participants about the new year’s coding updates, audits, proper claim reimbursement and more.

These one-day training programs, sponsored with state societies, will be coming to 11 states over the next few months.

A seminar will take place in Florida in December, followed by January events in Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky and Minnesota. February Codequests will take place in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. Seminars are scheduled for Texas and Washington in March.

To see when Codequest is in your state, visit www.aao.org/codequest.



Washington Report

SGR Remains Biggest Challenge
The Academy is fully engaged in a battle to stop drastic Medicare reimbursement cuts as a result of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.

The SGR formula will result in fee schedule cuts of 26 percent over six years. This will start with an initial 4.4 percent cut effective Jan. 1, 2006. The Academy has intensified its efforts to repeal SGR this year with the emergence of “pay for performance” reform proposals as viable responses to growing Medicare physician payment concerns. With the AMA, the Academy’s position is based on a belief that any new payment system cannot work without a long-term SGR fix. Joining congressional leaders, the Academy is pressing the administration to act to prevent the cuts, specifically by removing prescription drugs from the SGR update formula. Unfortunately, hurricane recovery costs are making it even more difficult to pay for the high costs of eliminating the SGR.

A win for ophthalmology on practice expenses. In July, CMS proposed a change in the way it calculates practice expense (PE) that would have cut ophthalmology’s payments by a total of 4.4 percent. The cuts would have been phased in, starting with a 1.1 percent cut in 2006, and would have had a negative impact of $474 million over four years. The Academy was instrumental in successfully derailing the PE proposal. The Academy began its efforts by building a coalition of other negatively impacted specialties, including the American College of Surgeons, ASCRS and others. The coalition called on CMS to postpone implementation of the PE changes for one year to review the proposed methodology and consider other options. In November, CMS announced in its final 2006 Physician Fee Schedule that it would not go forward with the PE proposal and that it will continue to use 2005 PE rates to value all services in 2006.

A full-scale advocacy effort. Despite the win on practice expenses, the threat of cuts in physician payments remains grave. The Academy has made stopping them its top priority and continues to work aggressively through both legislative and regulatory channels to derail these cuts. To find out how you can help, visit www.aao.org/advocacy.

 

Academy Store

Order Your 2006–2007 Member Directory
Want a “Who’s Who” of ophthalmology? The Academy and AAOE’s 2006–2007 Member Directory & Industry Guide provides individual listings for more than 30,200 members worldwide. It also includes listings for manufacturers and suppliers of products and services that are used by the ophthalmic community.

The Member Directory (Product #042006) costs $50 for members and $200 for nonmembers.

To order the Member Directory, visit www.aao.org/store or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8500.

Summary Benchmarks Now Available Online, on PDA or in Print
The Summary Benchmarks are based on the Academy’s Preferred Practice Patterns. The latest version has been updated to incorporate recent revisions to six of those PPPs—Comprehensive Exam for Adults, POAG, POAG Suspect, Primary Angle Closure, Bacterial Keratitis and AMD.

They can be downloaded for free to your PDA or as PDFs by visiting www.aao.org/benchmarks.

You can buy a laminated set (#110074)—which makes a handy reference in the exam room—by visiting www.aao.org/store or phoning the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8500. The laminated set costs $35 for members and $50 for nonmembers.



Meeting Matters

Las Vegas 2006: Beat the Deadlines for Submitting Abstracts
Join your colleagues in Las Vegas for the 2006 Joint Meeting (Nov. 11–14) and Subspecialty Day (Nov. 10– 11). If you would like to be a presenter next year, abstracts must be submitted online at www.aao.org/annual_meeting.

For Instruction Courses and Skills Transfer Courses, the online submitter opens on Wednesday, Dec. 14 and closes on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

For scientific exhibits, papers/posters and videos, the online submitter opens on Wednesday, March 15 and closes on Tuesday, April 11.

If you plan to submit a video, the Academy also must have your actual video no later than Friday, April 28.

Be sure to download the guidelines before making your submission.

Any questions? E-mail meetings@aao.org or fax 415-561-8576.

If You Earned CME in Chicago, Report It Online by Jan. 4
Beginning Nov. 16, go online to report the CME credits that you earned at Subspecialty Day and/or the Annual Meeting. CME credits must be reported by Jan. 4.

As a service to members only, the Academy maintains a transcript of Academy-spon- sored CME credits earned, provided the member reports those credits to the Academy. Members may also report credit earned through other CME providers, so that a record of all CME credits earned is available on a single transcript.

To report your CME, go to www.aao.org/cme.

Enjoy Highlights of Chicago 2005
If you missed a particular session from the 2005 Subspecialty Day or Annual Meeting, you can still catch up on some of this year’s highlights.

Go online for Scientific Posters. Visit www.aao.org/annual_meeting and select “Past Meetings” to see Scientific Posters from this year’s Annual Meeting.

Buy an audiotape. Review a Chicago presentation by ordering an audiotape online at www.nav-nnn.com.

Buy a Chicago DVD-ROM. There are 10 of them to choose from.

Six of these DVD-ROMs cover the Subspecialty Day programs—Glaucoma 2005: Paradigm Change in Theory and Practice; Neuro-Ophthalmology 2005: Clinical Scenarios, Evidence-Based Reviews, and Controversies; Pediatric Ophthalmology 2005: Little Kids, Big Issues; Refractive Surgery 2005: Simply the Best; Retina 2005: Changing Concepts and Controversies; and Uveitis 2005: New Frontiers in Diagnosis and Treatment.

Four of these DVD-ROMs cover Annual Meeting programs—Spotlight on Cataract Surgery 2005: New Pearls on Managing Complicated Cases and Complications; Highlights from AAOE’s 2005 Annual Meeting Courses; 2005 LEO Clinical Update Course on Glaucoma and 2005 LEO Clinical Update Course on Retina.

A limited number of CD-ROMs from previous Annual Meetings are also available.

To order these discs, visit dbpubonline.com and select ophthalmology.



Members at Large

Oklahomans Get Eye Checks at Governor’s Septemberfest
“Participation in Septemberfest provided the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology (OAO) the opportunity to participate in a unique event along with our other medical partners. Oklahoma Eye M.D.s welcomed the opportunity to share the benefits of vision screening with the public in a fun atmosphere,” said Academy Secretary for State Affairs Cynthia A. Bradford, MD.

Hosted by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and First Lady Kim Henry, the ninth annual Septemberfest offered something for everyone.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, visitors to the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City enjoyed tours of the building, exhibits, entertainment and public safety programs by fire and police personnel. These visitors also benefited from vision screenings provided by members of the OAO.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) was also on hand as Septemberfest’s first Presenting Sponsor and, according to OSMA Executive Director Brian Foy, “to share the benefits of good health and a healthy lifestyle.” The OSMA provided free health checks for children during the event. “

After such a positive experience, the OAO plans to be back next year,” noted OAO Past President Ann A. Warn, MD, MBA.

Who’s in the News
Is there a genetic cause for glaucoma’s disproportionate impact on blacks? If a gene is responsible for this, researchers have a better chance of finding it in Ghana than in the United States, where, “when you look at it genetically, 25 percent of African-Americans have European blood,” said Rand R. Allingham, MD, to Associated Press reporters for an Aug. 8 article. In an NEI-sponsored pilot project, Dr. Allingham and a team of researchers from Duke University have been visiting the West African nation to examine patients, collect blood samples and extract DNA. “I really didn’t think African-Americans came to this country and then developed glaucoma,” he said.

The Courier-Journal, a Louisville, Ky., newspaper, interviewed Michael J. Cooney, MD, for a June 30 article on AMD.

Lee T. Helms, MD, warned readers of The Roanoke Times to make sure that their sunglasses filter ultraviolet light. The article appeared in the July 3 edition of the Roanoke, Va., newspaper.

Television viewers in Chicago saw Parag A. Majmudar, MD, featured on the July 11 edition of “WGN News.” Dr. Majmudar was seen implanting the ReStor IOL. On Sept. 14, the same station interviewed Randy J. Epstein, MD, about the risk of eye infection for contact lens wearers who swim in lakes. The broadcast featured a 16-year-old patient struggling to keep the sight in one eye after being infected with Acanthamoeba keratitis.

Bernard C. Spier, MD, encountered a rarely reported complication of cataract surgery when a sport utility vehicle crashed through the operating room wall. He had just used a plunger to implant an IOL when the crash threw him onto the patient, reported The Star-Ledger on Aug. 25. Dr. Spier told a reporter at the Newark, N.J., newspaper that if the incident had happened moments earlier, “the plunger could have done some damage.”

The New York Times interviewed Esen K. Akpek, MD, J. Daniel Nelson, MD, and Stephen C. Pflugfelder, MD, for a Sept. 13 article on dry eye.

People
The Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons presented David H. Barr, MD, with its 2005 Humanitarian Service Award.

On Sept. 24, the New York State Ophthalmological Society presented Ronald M. Burde, MD, with the 2005 Hobie Award.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology has announced that it will present Joshua L. Dunaief, MD, PhD, with the Cogan Award at its annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next May.

C. Stephen Foster, MD, opened a new private institute—the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institute (www.uveitis.org).

The Missouri Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons named John C. Hagan III, MD, the 2005 winner of its Golden Medallion Award.

R&D Magazine named Mark S. Humayun, MD, 2005 Innovator of the Year for his work on retina implants.

Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted awarded its 2005 Focus Award to David A. Saperstein, MD.

Director of the National Eye Institute Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, is this year’s recipient of the Lighthouse International Pisart Vision Award.

At a gala dinner in Chicago Oct. 14, ISRS/AAO honored the following individuals: Carmen J. Barraquer- Coll, MD, (Barraquer Award); Arturo S. Chayet, MD, (Casebeer Lecture Award); Daniel S. Durrie, MD, (Lifetime Achievement Award); Michael A. Lawless, MD, (Founders’ Award); Ramon Naranjo-Tackman, MD, (Kritzinger Memorial Lectureship Award); Oliver Stachs, PhD, (Troutman Award); and Paolo Vinciguerra, MD, (Lans Award).