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2007 Mid-Year Forum

Last month, more than 400 Eye M.D.s gathered in Washington, D.C., to question regulators, legislators and Academy leaders about some of ophthalmology’s most critical issues. Topics discussed include:

Medical Economics: Future Financing of Physician Services. Recent policy changes and election results will significantly affect the future of physician reimbursement. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Health subcommittee, said that leadership is committed to finding an alternative to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Medicare reimbursement formula during this legislative session (2007–2008). The problem is that the Democrats were elected on a “pay-as-you-go” platform last fall, so they need to find money elsewhere within Medicare to fund the SGR fix.

Economist Kevin Hayes said that a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a federal body that advises Congress, was unable to recommend a single alternative to SGR, so lawmakers will need to de-velop the solution.

A panel discussed pay-for-performance initiatives. Tom Valuck, MD, from CMS said that Medicare was moving away from being a passive payer to an active purchaser of health care. Paul Lee, MD, outlined the process by which the Academy developed quality measures for ophthalmology that will be used in the P4P rollout beginning in July 2007. David Schutt, MD, from MedStat outlined his approach to monitoring efficiency (low cost, high quality) in medical care.

Finally, Robert Berenson, MD, pointed out that, while currently popular, P4P may not be aligning the incentives in a desirable way, and will not guarantee improved quality.

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Are Here to Stay. Lloyd Hildebrand, MD, chairman of the Academy’s Committee on Medical Information Technology, reviewed the converging trends that will make conversion to the EMR nearly a necessity within the next decade.

Ann Hulett, administrator at the Rocky Mountain Eye Center, and Kelly D. Chung, MD, physician at the Casey Eye Institute, described their institutions’ experience with rollout of electronic records. They said that the long-term benefits are undeniable, but in the short-term, there are many challenges to surmount. David A. Durfee, MD, described the Academy’s response to these challenges, which is online and accessible by typing “EMR Central” in the search box at the Academy’s home page.

Preparing Young Ophthalmologists for the Profession. Jennifer Smith, MD, chairwoman of the Academy’s Young Ophthalmologist Committee, reviewed the results of a recent survey showing that recent residency graduates felt unprepared in several nonclinical areas. A lively audience discussion ensued, including participation by many of the 75 residents and fellows whose attendance was sponsored by state and local ophthalmology societies.

For more on the Mid-Year Forum, go to www.aao.org/myf.

Academy Notebook
MID-YEAR FORUM ADVOCACY. Andrew P. Doan, MD, PhD, at center, is a young ophthalmologist who works to promote grassroots advocacy and state society involvement among his colleagues. Here, Dr. Doan speaks with California-based residents who were able to attend the MYF via the Academy’s Advocacy Ambassador Program and with support from the California Academy of Ophthalmology.

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FYI 

Visit EMR Central

Over the last few years, the Academy’s leadership has directed its attention to the evolution of the electronic medical record and how to facilitate the IT transitions that most ophthalmologists are currently facing (or will likely face in the next five years).

With the recent increased federal focus on a coordinated approach to the electronic medical record, the Academy has continued to refine this effort. EMR Central is a new online resource from the Academy and the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE) designed to help you select an electronic medical records system as well as providing information on EMR education programs and lists of providers.

To access EMR Central, visit www.aao.org/aaoe/emr.

Membership Dues for 2007—A Reminder

Have you paid your 2007 membership dues? The Academy must receive your payment by June 1 to guarantee that you continue to enjoy the many benefits of membership, which include uninterrupted delivery of the specialty’s leading peer-reviewed and clinical news publications, Ophthalmology and EyeNet Magazine.

Renew your membership and pay your dues online at www.aao.org/member/paydues, by phone at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8581, or by fax at 415-561-8575.

Update Your Membership Listing for New Directory

Please take the time to visit “Update Your Membership Listing,” located in the “Member Center” at www.aao.org to ensure that your information is complete and accurate for both the Academy’s 2008– 2009 Member Directory and Find an Eye M.D., the online directory of practicing ophthalmologists. Changes to your information for the 2008–2009 Member Directory will be accepted through Aug. 24.

For more information, contact Member Services by phone, 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8581, or e-mail, member_services@aao.org.

Serve Your Colleagues

By volunteering on one of the more than 60 Academy committees, you can help the Academy serve its members more effectively.

Later this month and in early June, the Academy will compile a registry of all volunteers. This registry will help the Academy’s president-elect and committee chairs to draw up their committee selections for 2008. To be eligible, you must be a voting fellow, member or international member.

To volunteer for committee service, visit www.aao.org/committee_volunteer. Read each committee’s mission statement before indicating whether you are available to serve on it.

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Academy Store 

Check Out the New and Improved Academy Store

Earlier this year, the Academy Store was completely redesigned to provide an easier, more intuitive purchasing experience. Quickly search hundreds of products by keyword, category, subspecialty, new products or most popular products.

Visit the new online store at www.aao.org/store for the latest resources in clinical education, patient education and practice management.

Guide to EHR Implementation

The Technical and Financial Guide to EHR Implementation (#012178) is a guidebook designed to provide step-by-step technical guidance for the physician practice that has made the decision to move from paper-based records to electronic health records. This handbook will help pave the way for a successful move to an efficient digital practice.

Topics include security preparedness, organizational readiness, EHR implementation, how to measure EHR return on investment, and remittance implementation. The Technical and Financial Guide to EHR Implementation costs $99 for members and $134 for nonmembers.

To order, 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.

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Meeting Matters 

Dr. Judah Folkman: 2007 Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker

The Academy is pleased to announce Judah Folkman, MD, as the 2007 Annual Meeting Opening Session Keynote Speaker. Dr. Folkman’s hypothesis in 1971 that all tumor growth is angiogenesis-dependent opened a field of investigation that is now pursued by scientists worldwide. His laboratory discovered the first angiogenesis inhibitors and initiated clinical trials of antiangiogenic therapy. Today, angiogenesis inhibitors have received FDA approval in the United States for the treatment of certain cancers as well as for macular degeneration.

New Orleans Rebounds

New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras on Feb. 20, ending a largely problem-free Carnival season. The New Orleans police department estimated 800,000 people hit the streets on Mardi Gras, about 20 percent shy of typical Fat Tuesday attendance.

Later that week, New Orleans welcomed 24,000 conventioneers for the Health Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference.

By year’s end, the city expects to reach 70 percent of the pre-Katrina convention and meeting bookings. Tourism and convention business are essential for the continued rebuilding in New Orleans. The Academy is looking forward to contributing to the city’s recovery and growth during this year’s Annual Meeting.

International Attendees of the 2007 Annual Meeting

As of Jan. 23, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires that Canadians, Mexicans and Bermudans present a valid passport to enter the United States if traveling by air. In most cases, Canadians and Bermudans will not need a visa.

Other international citizens visiting the United States will require a visitor visa upon entry. Secure a visitor visa through the U.S. Department of State and apply early to avoid delays.

For more detailed visa information, helpful links and to personalize a letter of invitation, visit www.aao.org/annual_meeting and select “Hotels and Travel.”

Subspecialty Day 2007

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn the newest treatment strategies and exchange ideas with other ophthalmic subspecialists in New Orleans. Titles for the 2007 Subspecialty Day programs have been announced:

  • Cornea 2007: Contemporary and Future Issues (Saturday, Nov. 10)
  • Glaucoma 2007: Achieving Balance (Saturday)
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology 2007: Practical Approaches to Common Clinical Scenarios (Saturday)
  • Refractive Surgery 2007: What a Wonderful World (Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday)
  • Retina 2007: A View to the Future (Friday and Saturday)

Register for the Retina or Refractive Surgery programs and float among all Subspecialty Day programs on Friday and Saturday. Cornea, Glaucoma and Neuro-Ophthalmology program registrants can float among all five programs on Saturday only.

Your Subspecialty Day badge also allows you to visit the Annual Meeting exhibit hall on Saturday.

For the most up-to-date information, visit “Subspecialty Day” at www.aao.org/annual_meeting.

2007 Advance Program

Keep a lookout for the 2007 Advance Program, which will be mailed in late May to all Academy and AAOE members and those nonmembers who have attended a meeting in the last three years.

The 2007 Advance Program will include all registration forms, the hotel map and list, and Subspecialty Day schedules. It will also feature course information for Breakfasts With the Experts, Instruction Courses, Skills Transfer Courses, Symposia, Special Meetings and Events, Spotlight Sessions and more.

Housing and Registration Dates

There is no shortage of hotel rooms during the Academy’s Annual Meeting. We are currently working with 62 hotels to reserve almost 13,000 rooms booked on peak night.

2007 Annual Meeting housing and registration will open on the following dates:

  • June 20: Registration and housing open to Academy and AAOE members.
  • July 11: Registration and housing open to nonmembers.
  • Aug. 15: Early bird registration deadline.

Visit “Hotels and Travel” at www.aao.org/annual_meeting to view hotel locations and descriptions, check room availability and make hotel reservations. Information on air travel and car rental is also available.

Scientific Program Highlights

The Academy continues to be committed to offering the highest quality courses and free sessions so you can benefit from the latest information and techniques. 2007 highlights include:

  • More than 30 free Scientific Sessions
  • 253 Instruction Courses (79 of which are new)
  • 91 Skills Transfer Courses
  • More than 180 Breakfast With the Experts Roundtables
  • 73 AAOE courses
  • Five AAOE special programs (of which three are new)
  • 118 Free Papers
  • 500 Scientific Posters
  • 50 Surgical Videos

In addition to the Scientific Program, don’t miss the occasion to:

  • Network with your colleagues—during the Annual Meeting, numerous alumni and other ophthalmology related groups will hold special meetings and events.
  • Visit the exhibit hall—explore the world’s largest exhibition of ophthalmic technology, products and services. More than 500 companies will present the latest ophthalmic advances.

Full abstracts and scientific program information will be available on the Academy’s Web site on May 15. Visit “Scientific Program” at www.aao.org/annual_meeting.

Still Time Left to Attend ISRS/AAO Beijing Meeting

Advance registration has ended, but you can still attend this year’s ISRS/AAO meeting. Expanding Horizons in Refractive and Cataract Surgery will take place May 25–27 in Beijing, China. Program directors Ronald R. Krueger, MD, and Jialiang Zhao Sr., MD, have planned a program on the latest innovations in refractive and cataract surgery. The meeting will be simultaneously translated into Mandarin.

For more information, visit www.isrs.org/meeting/beijing.cfm.

Academy Exhibit at Cancun Meeting

If your plans take you to the PAAO (Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology) Meeting, May 31 to June 3, in Cancun, Mexico, be sure to stop by the Academy’s booth (#107–108) and see the latest products from the Academy.

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Members At Large 

People

Rahul N. Khurana, MD, has been awarded a 2007 AMA Foundation Leadership Award. The awards are presented annually to medical students, residents, fellows, young physicians and international medical graduate physicians who have exhibited outstanding leadership in organized medicine and/or community affairs.

Robert H. Osher, MD, has received the Charles Kelman Award during the Annual Hellenic Society Meeting. Dr. Osher is the founder of the Cincinnati Eye Institute and is well-known for his innovations in cataract surgery and for his skill at surgical video production.

Who’s in the News

Marguerite B. McDonald, MD, was interviewed by The Oprah Magazine for a March story on mascara safety. “Every ophthalmologist I know has treated corneal ulcers caused by women who poke themselves in the eye while attempting to apply mascara in a moving vehicle,” Dr. McDonald stated.

The Academy worked closely with U.S. News & World Report for its March 5 cover story on the state of eye health care. Among many Academy spokespeople was James J. Salz, MD. With wavefront technology, Dr. Salz said, “We have a better chance of making your vision 20/20 and fewer optical problems.”

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Washington Report

Pay for Reporting

In an effort to resolve the problems with the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, Congress passed legislation last year that averted a 5 percent cut to the 2007 Medicare conversion factor. Congress also offered physicians the opportunity to earn a 1.5 percent bonus to participate in Medicare’s pay for reporting program, now known as the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). Earlier this year, in order to keep members who want to earn the bonus informed of the new ophthalmology measures implemented by CMS, the Academy offered a series of three free audio conference calls with William L. Rich III, MD, the Academy’s medical director of health policy. Here are highlights from Dr. Rich’s presentations.

The Reporting Process. Eight eye care measures including those for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataract were developed by the Academy in collaboration with a number of subspecialty societies. Physicians who choose to voluntarily report on these measures in 2007 are encouraged to start implementing processes in their offices this month. The reporting must cover July 1 to Dec. 31, 2007, for bonus consideration. Those who choose to participate must report on at least three measures, and the bonus is contingent on reporting on 80 percent of patients who have the disease or diagnosis for which the quality measure applies (e.g., examining the optic nerve for a glaucoma patient). A cap will limit the bonus for those who don’t have a lot of patients for reporting purposes.

Other Information. The bonus applies to 100 percent of Part B billings for the period (July 1 to Dec. 31, 2007). It does not, however, include drugs such as Lucentis, which are billed by physicians. And there is no PQRI bonus for patients seen in nursing facilities or in Medicare Advantage programs. The bonus number may seem small on an individual basis, but for the overall ophthalmology profession would amount to around $35 million.

Future Considerations. The next generation of measures will be outcomes-related, and the Academy will be working again with subspecialty society input over the next few months. There is a short window to get new measures in for the 2008 PQRI program, so only a very limited number of measures can get through the process. In any CMS expansion of the physician quality recognition program, health care disparities will be a focus point, and credit for e-prescribing or electronic health records will be a future consideration.

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