Iraqi CME Effort Seeks Volunteers
Michael W. Brennan, MD, the Academy’s international envoy and the chairman of the Medical Alliance for Iraq (MAI), has been involved in several projects in Iraq since the war began. He reports here on his latest efforts.
More than 100 Iraqi physicians assembled in Erbil, Iraq, Dec. 5–7, for a leadership forum dedicated to the establishment of a national system of regional CME centers. All major specialties and interest groups were represented, as delegates were nominated by the Iraqi medical specialty societies, the Iraqi Medical Association and the national and Kurdish regional Ministries of Higher Education and Health. The forum was organized and facilitated by several U.S. and U.K. physicians representing MAI, an independent, unincorporated, volunteer organization.
MAI returned to Iraq after conducting a larger clinically oriented forum in Baghdad in February 2004. Capitalizing on trusted personal relationships and formative national specialty society linkages, the physicians convinced Ministry officials to provide facilities and administrative/technical capacities for the prospective CME center(s). MAI will cycle cadres of U.S. and U.K. physicians to serve as faculty, specialty by specialty. Accreditation will be based on international standards and the Ministry of Health will use national priorities to sequence the clinically relevant curriculum. Primary-care and emergency medicine topics will lead off.
Iraqi physicians expressed the critical need for this dedicated educational and training resource that will ultimately encompass telemedicine and e-learning. They believe that face-to-face international relations and professional camaraderie in a clinical context will stem the tide of physician emigration. Most important will be the enhancement of the standard and quality of patient care. Volunteers from all specialties of medicine are welcome.
For more information on volunteer opportunities, go to www.faao.org/volunteer.
The Best Things in Life Are Free Campaign
The EyeCare America (ECA) campaign titled “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” reminds seniors that you can’t put a price tag on love, friendship or the importance of eyesight.
The campaign encourages those aged 65 and older to call ECA’s Seniors EyeCare Program to see if they qualify for a free exam and eye care. ECA is promoting this campaign via radio and newspaper outlets, and via materials distributed to such partners as the Lions Eye Health Program and the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.
To become an EyeCare America volunteer ophthalmologist, call 877-887-6327 (toll-free in the United States) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday, or visit www.eyecareamerica.org for more information.
Need Coding Advice? Codequest Experts Are on the Road
Get up to speed on the trickiest of coding conundrums by attending a Codequest seminar.
Designed specifically for the ophthalmology practice, these Codequest seminars are scheduled to take place throughout the United States and offer a comprehensive review of the most clinically relevant information in all practice emphasis areas.
Seminars are currently scheduled for the following states—California (April 13 and 14), Kentucky (Feb. 10), Nebraska (March 30), North Carolina (Feb. 3), Oklahoma (March 3), Tennessee (Feb. 3), Texas (March 17 and 31), Utah (Feb. 24) and Washington (March 29).
For more information on locations and dates, visit www.aao.org/codequest.
Sign Up for the MOC Exam Review Course
Are you preparing to take the American Board of Ophthalmology’s closed-book exam (the DOCK)?
Attend a review course based on the Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum (POC), the same content that the ABO uses to develop the DOCK questions.
Featuring instructors who created the POC, the course takes place in the Chicago area, July 27–29.
For more information and to register, visit www.aao.org/moc.
See What’s New in Ocular Oncology and Cornea
At the Academy’s Joint Meeting in Las Vegas, leading ophthalmologists presented the latest developments in the fields of ocular oncology and of cornea and external disease as part of the Lifelong Education for the Ophthalmologist (LEO) Clinical Update Course series.
Those presentations are now available on DVD-ROM. By viewing these courses—which combine slides, text, video and audio exactly as originally presented—you can maintain competency without leaving your office or home. High-quality image magnification and a rapid search function make them a convenient resource for everyday use.
The LEO Clinical Update Course on Ocular Oncology DVD-ROM (#0212304) covers:
- clinical factors that predict the growth of small choroidal melanocytic tumors
- Reese-Ellsworth Classification and the new International Classification for retinoblastoma
- ancillary diagnostic tests that are most helpful in differentiating retinoblastoma and uveal melanoma from their simulating lesions
- an approach for evaluating tumors of the conjunctiva, lids and orbit
The LEO Clinical Update Course on Cornea & External Disease DVD-ROM (#0212303) covers:
- findings on corneal topography and other ancillary tests that suggest corneal pathology and that clarify the type of corneal abnormality
- identification and treatment of corneal signs suggestive of microbial keratitis
- symptoms, signs and management of limbal stem-cell insufficiency and other ocular surface diseases
- identification of the patient with cornea and external disease who most warrants consideration for subspecialty referral
To order a DVD-ROM, visit www.aao.org/store or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8540.
Focal Points Reaches Quarter-Century Milestone
What were you doing on this day 25 years ago? If you were Ronald E. Smith, MD, you were probably putting the final touches on the inaugural issue of Focal Points.
As the first editor-in-chief of this program, Dr. Smith headed up an editorial review board of seven Academy doctors who were charged with creating a series of concise, hands-on “modules” on diagnostic and treatment advances in a wide variety of specialty areas.
Over the years, Focal Points has won several awards for educational quality and is recognized as one of the best peer-reviewed clinical publication of its kind. While faithful subscribers can recall the original red loose-leaf binders, the program’s prominent color changed to blue in 2000. Numerous design improvements have been made, but modules still contain the “Clinician’s Corner” and abundant illustrations that made the series popular.
Today, Focal Points has more than 5,000 subscribers, including 1,200 ophthalmology residents who receive all 12 modules free of charge thanks in part to a grant from Santen.
Most subscribers still prefer the print version, but an increasing number are choosing to access Focal Points Online, which also includes video clips, reference links and other features, and has been available on the Academy Web site for almost a year.
For information on how to subscribe to both print and online versions of Focal Points, visit www.aao.org/education/focal_points/index.cfm.
New Orleans Welcomes You Back
Indulge your senses, savor New Orleans’ rich cultural experience and celebrate everything that still makes the city a unique and enthralling destination.
- Walk through living history in the vibrant French Quarter or take a ride in a historic streetcar.
- Glide past alligators on a boat in the heart of the swampland or observe the wildlife at the renowned Audubon Zoo and Aquarium of the Americas.
- Discover treasures tucked inside unique boutiques along Magazine Street.
- Catch some live music at one of New Orleans’ many famous clubs in the historic Arts District, French Quarter or Faubourg Marigny.
And no visit to New Orleans is complete without experiencing the city’s matchless cuisine at its many renowned restaurants.
Come celebrate the city’s rebirth at the Academy’s 111th Annual Meeting, Nov. 10–13, 2007. It will be preceded by the Academy’s Subspecialty Day, Nov. 9–10.
For more information, visit “New Orleans 2007” at www.aao.org/annual_meeting or the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.neworleanscvb.com.
Submit Abstracts for Papers, Posters and Videos
If you would like to be a presenter at this year’s Annual Meeting, abstracts must be submitted online:
- For scientific exhibits, papers, posters and videos, the online submitter opens on March 14 and closes on April 10.
- If you plan to submit a video abstract, the deadline to submit the actual video is April 27.
Be sure to download the guidelines before making your submission. Please note, the abstract deadline for Instruction Courses and Skills Transfer Courses has already closed.
For information on submitting an abstract, visit www.aao.org/annual_meeting and go to “Presenter Central.” For further information, e-mail email@example.com or phone 415-447-0343.
Registration Now Open for the ISRS/AAO Beijing 2007 Meeting
Join ISRS/AAO, in partnership with the Chinese Ophthalmological Society and the Asia-Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, for the 2007 meeting.
The meeting will take place in Beijing, May 26–27. Program directors Ronald R. Krueger, MD, and Jialiang Zhao Sr., MD, are planning a program on the latest innovations in refractive and cataract surgery. The meeting will be simultaneously translated into Mandarin.
The deadline to submit abstracts for e-papers is Jan. 31. Advance registration is open until April 11.
For more information, visit www.isrs.org/meeting/beijing.cfm.
Members at Large
2006 WIO Suzanne Véronneau–Troutman Award
Penny A. Asbell, MD, MBA, acting chairwoman of ophthalmology and vice chairwoman of appointments and promotions at the Mount Sinai Medical Center of New York, received the 10th Annual Women in Ophthalmology (WIO) Suzanne Véronneau–Troutman Award at the reception of the WIO during the Academy’s 2006 Joint Meeting.
This award is given to the person, nominated by the membership and voted for by a majority of the WIO advisory committee, who has done the most during the preceding year to advance and enhance the position of women in ophthalmology.
U.S., European and Latin American Eye M.D.s Meet in San Francisco
“This presented a unique opportunity to have European, Latin American and U.S. Eye M.D.s share experiences and learn about leadership skills,” said Daniel J. Briceland, MD, director of the Academy’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), when speaking of the joint session of the LDP, the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology’s (PAAO) Curso de Liderazgo and the European Society of Ophthalmology’s (SOE) EuLDP. The two-and-a-half-day leadership development session, held January 19–21 in San Francisco, also provided these Eye M.D.s with an opportunity to visit the Academy’s offices and hear from its leadership—including its president C. P. Wilkinson, MD, its executive vice president H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, and its vice presidents—about the Academy’s key priorities and the roles of its various divisions.
Participants of the Academy’s 2006–2007 LDP include 18 U.S. Eye M.D.s, who were nominated by U.S. state and subspecialty societies, and one international participant, Jun Shyan-Wong, MBBS, who was nominated by the Asia Academy of Ophthalmology. They were joined by 14 participants of the SOE EuLDp, as well as 17 participants in PAAO’s Curso de Liderazgo.
Stefan Seregard, MD, PhD, and Zelia Correa, MD, are the directors of the SOE EuLDP and PAAO Curso, respectively, and are both graduates of the Academy’s LDP. When they participated in the LDP, their project was to develop a similar program for their respective regions of the world. “We are extremely proud of the work Stefan and Zelia have done to get their leadership programs up and running. This will only serve to enhance future leaders in ophthalmology and organized medicine around the world. The All India Ophthalmological Society and the Middle East African Council of Ophthalmology are now following their lead and will soon launch similar leadership programs as well,” said Michael W. Brennan, MD, Academy international envoy.
To learn more about the Academy’s Leadership Development Program, visit www.aao.org/aao/member/state/leadership.cfm or e-mail Gail Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who’s in the News
Robert S. Bailey Jr., MD, was interviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer in a Dec. 4 article debunking health myths. “You can cross your eyes, sit too close to the TV, read in dim light—it doesn’t cause injury,” noted Dr. Bailey in response to the notion that crossing one’s eyes causes strabismus.
“It’s really humbling,” said Brock G. Magruder Jr., MD, in a Dec. 3 piece in the Orlando Sentinel concerning the Diocese of Orlando’s missionary work in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Magruder has performed numerous eye surgeries over the course of several missions to the island. “Yes, we’ve been willing to be inconvenienced in some ways. But they have shown us incredible generosity, too. We have developed really good friends there.”
This Year's Important Reimbursement Issues
A number of important reimbursement events will affect ophthalmologists this year. Last December, organized medicine managed to stop a 5 percent cut in Medicare payments that would have started in January due to the sustainable growth rate (SGR). With the halt for 2007 in place, the new 110th Congress must now look for an immediate fix for 2008. Here are a few of ophthalmology’s issues for 2007:
Sustainable growth rate. SGR developments include a 2007 fix of 0 percent for physicians that is partially funded by a stabilization fund that was established for Medicare Advantage plans. The 2007 conversion factor of $37.8975 is the same as it was for 2006. Physicians who voluntarily report on identified quality measures can receive a 1.5 percent bonus under Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has included eight ophthalmology-specific quality measures, including those for glaucoma, cataract and AMD that were developed by the Academy and the AMA in the 2007 Physician Voluntary Reporting Program. The bonus for reporting will be implemented in July of this year.
Five-Year Review and practice expenses. In 2007, ophthalmologists face a 3 percent cut due to changes from the Five-Year Review of Work Values and CMS policy changes related to practice expenses. Of that, 1 percent is the result of revisions to the practice expense (PE) methodology. Changes to PE will be transitioned in over four years, with ophthalmology seeing a final reduction of 3 percent by 2010. As a result of the work of an Academy-led coalition, PE for ophthalmology will be improved in future years when data from a new medicinewide PE survey are implemented. The AMA is working with CMS and will pilot a test survey early this year.
Budget neutrality. Two percent of the 2007 cut is due to a budget neutrality adjustment applied because of increased work values for evaluation and management (E&M) codes under the Five-Year Review. CMS chose to apply the budget neutrality to all work values rather than to the conversion factor. The Academy and medicine objected to that decision in the proposed rule announced in November, but CMS refused to change its stance in the final rule. Work values for all services were reduced by 10 percent, but ophthalmology’s impact was blunted by the Academy’s efforts in the Five-Year Review and because the E&M increases were also applied to visits during the surgical global period.