American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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November/December 2008

 
Academy Notebook
 
 

What's Happening 

Survey of the YO Experience

What are some of the positive and negative job experiences of young ophthalmologists (YOs) who have been in practice five years or less?

The Academy recently conducted a survey that explored YO experiences in their first full-time position after the completion of training.1 The survey compared the experiences of those who stayed in their first full-time position with the experiences of those who left that position.

Nearly four of five YOs (78 percent) have remained with their first full-time position. Seventy-five percent of these “job retainers” reported being extremely or very satisfied with their jobs. About one in five YOs (22 percent) has held more than one position. Only 12 percent of these job switchers reported being extremely or very satisfied at their first job.

Job retainers reported being on weekday call one day out of every six and on weekend call one weekend out of every 6.2. Job switchers reported being on call more often—one day in five during the week and one weekend of every 4.6. Moreover, two-thirds of job retainers said that the workload was shared equally, while more than half of job switchers stated that it was not shared equitably. Job switchers were more likely to say that they saw fewer patients (especially surgical patients and new patients) or that they were expected to find their own patients.

Among the YOs who switched jobs, the following reasons were cited for leaving:

  • better position at the new job (52 percent),
  • poor pay (31 percent),
  • poor relations with other doctors (31 percent),
  • inequitable distribution of work (26 percent),
  • low patient volume (24 percent),
  • disagreement on partnership (21 percent),
  • practice location (17 percent), and
  • poor work-life balance (17 percent).

The survey also allowed respondents to offer advice to job candidates. The most common advice was to:

  • make an effort to get to know your future colleagues, and trust your instincts,
  • seek the advice of other ophthalmologists who have already made the transition from training to practice,
  • make sure that you and your family really want to live in the area the practice is located in, and
  • have an attorney review your hiring contract and/or partnership agreement.
___________________________

1 This survey was conducted via e-mail and sent to 1,959 domestic members who were in practice five years or less. One hundred and ninety-two members completed the survey, yielding a 10 percent response rate.

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FYI 

Your Staff Can Go Online for New Risk Management Courses

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) has partnered with the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC) to launch a series of online risk manage­ment courses addressing liability and practice protocol for ophthalmic personnel.

Three initial courses have been developed for continuing education credit, “Responding to Unanticipated Outcomes,” “Documentation of Ophthalmic Care” and “Oph­thalmic Anesthesia Liability.” The JCAHPO/OMIC courses highlight the importance of communicating with patients honestly, appropriately documenting practice procedures and understanding the current regulatory boundaries of practice liability.

For more information and to register, visit www.myjcahpoce.org. Course registration does not require JCAHPO or OMIC membership.

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Learn More About E-Prescribing

E-prescribing allows your practice to establish a two-way electronic connection with pharmacies in your area so that requests for prescription renewals can be sent to your practice computer.

While electronic medical record systems can be helpful for e-prescribing, they are not required. A number of stand-alone e-prescribing programs are on the market.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/e-rx. Also visit Get Connected at www.getrxconnected.com/aao. Get Connected is an outreach program sponsored by the Academy and other medical societies where Academy members can learn more about e-prescribing, find vendors and receive a free guide to selecting technology. This site also can help you determine whether your practice technology is compliant with upcoming changes to CMS prescribing regulations.

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Educate Patients and Promote Your Profession

Make sure your patients add the following items to their New Year’s resolutions:

  • If you turn 40 in 2009, make an appointment for a baseline eye ­screening.
  • Wear protective eyewear when doing projects around the house to safeguard against eye injuries.

These two recommendations come from the Academy’s EyeSmart campaign, a public education initiative to bolster awareness of eye disease and injuries, and the role ophthalmologists play in the prevention and treatment of eye conditions.

To order free educational materials for your office,visit www.aao.org/eyesmartcampaign. Patient information is also available at www.geteyesmart.org.

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Save These Dates for Upcoming Coding Webinars

Update your coding knowledge for 2009 and prepare for the Ophthalmic Coding Specialist Exam with these webinars:

  • 2009 Ophthalmology Coding Update—Jan. 13 (11 a.m. to noon)
  • Ophthalmic Coding Specialist Exam Preparation Course—Jan. 27 (11 a.m. to noon)

For more information on these webinars and other AAOE resources, visit www.aao.org/aaoe.

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Save Money and Time When Ordering Supplies

The SimplifEye Ophthalmic Purchasing Program is a product formulary designed to give Academy and AAOE members the best possible prices and an online or system to help track individual inventories and purchase history.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/member/simplifeye.cfm or call 800-772-4346 (toll-free in the United States).

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Free White Cane Initiative

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has announced an initiative to ensure that any blind person or person with low vision in the United States or Puerto Rico who needs a long, white cane will have one, regardless of ability to pay.

The NFB will provide a free cane to those who use or desire to use a white cane in order to get around independently.

For more information on this program, visit www.nfb.org.

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Academy Store 

Learn How to Operate a Dispensary

The Dispensing Ophthalmologist (#012179) addresses the practical aspects of opening an optical dispensary and operating it at peak profitability. Use this book to learn how to create a business plan, design and select products, manage the dispensary, and market and measure performance.

The Dispensing Ophthalmologist is $99 for members and $135 for nonmembers.

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New Phaco Training DVD

Part of the Video Atlas of Eye Surgery series, Phacoemulsification 3. Complications covers surgical techniques in a video-based training program. Discs 1, 2 and 3 (#0252 413, #0252414 and #0252 415) are now available. Topics include local anesthesia, capsulorhexis, hydrodissection, wound burn and chamber shallowing techniques.

Each disc is $99 for members and nonmembers.

Academy Store

To order products from the Academy Store, 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 

San Francisco Welcomes Back the Academy

The 2009 Joint Meeting of the Academy and the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology will take place Oct. 24–27 at the Moscone Convention Center in the Academy’s hometown, San Francisco. It will be preceded by the Academy’s Subspecialty Day, Oct. 23–24, which will feature meetings in refractive surgery, retina, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology and pediatric ophthalmology.

For updates on the Joint Meeting, visit www.aao.org/2009.

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Submit Abstracts for Papers, Posters and Videos

If you are interested in being a presenter at next year’s Joint Meeting, abstracts must be submitted online:

  • For Instruction Courses and Skills Transfer Courses, the online submitter opens on Dec. 10 and closes on Jan. 13.
  • For papers, posters and videos, the online submitter opens on March 11 and closes on April 14.
  • If you are making plans to submit a video abstract, the deadline to submit the actual video is April 24.

Be sure to review the abstract guidelines before making your submission.

For information on submitting an abstract, visit www.aao.org/2009, select “Scientific Program” and “Presenter Central.” For more information, send an e-mail to meetings@aao.org.

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Claim Your 2008 Atlanta CME Credits by Jan. 21

Beginning Dec. 17, the CME credits that you earned at the 2008 Joint Meeting and/ or Subspecialty Day can be reported online. Credits must be reported by Jan. 21.

As a service to members only, the Academy maintains a transcript of Academy-spon­sored CME credits earned, provided the member reports those credits to the Academy. Members also may report credits 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.

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Members At Large 

Minnesota Academy Focuses on Community Service

The Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology (MAO) is a leader among state ophthalmology societies in the arena of public service and education. “MAO has always taken pride in programs that assist and educate the general public with regard to their eye care,” said Scott A. Uttley, MD, president of MAO and member of the Academy’s secretariat for State Affairs.

MAO’s recent community service included glaucoma screenings at the Minnesota State Fair on Aug. 31, as well as another eye screening event at the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Expo held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Oct. 11.

Both events were co­sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Student Sight Savers program, a group of medical students with an expressed interest in ophthalmology.

Anthony J. Pfaff, MD, MAO board member and chairman of the MAO young ophthalmologist section was joined by MAO members Omar Awad, MD, Zachary J. Berbos, MD, and Kevin C. Engel, MD, in educating Minnesota State Fair attendees about glaucoma risk factors and eye care in general. During the Expo event, MAO members also volunteered their time answering questions about diabetic retin­opathy and reading retinal images.

“The MAO’s support of community service is clearly in alignment with the state ophthalmology society organizational goals developed by the Academy’s secretariat. State ophthalmology societies should strive to balance the importance of advocacy, membership development, continuing medical and practice management education with the important goal of community service,” said Mary G. Lawrence, MD, MPH, a member of MAO and of the Academy’s secretariat for State Affairs.

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People

Ellen R. Strahlman, MD, MHSc, has been named chief medical officer at GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Strahlman is also currently an industry representative to the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and is a member of the Academy Foundation’s advisory board. She most recently served as vice president of worldwide business development at Pfizer.

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Washington Report

Opportunity to Earn 2 Percent Bonuses

A 2007 Academy survey showed that 60 percent of ophthalmologists planned to adopt e-prescribing in the next two years. Over the next five years, a new Medicare program will provide incentive payments to physicians and other practitioners who electronically prescribe, starting with a 2 percent bonus in 2009 and 2010, 1 percent in 2011 and 2012, and 0.5 percent in 2013. For those who report on quality measures under the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI), this would be an additional 2 percent beyond the 2 percent 2009 PQRI incentive bonus.

The e-prescribing measure used by practices to qualify for 2008 PQRI is removed from 2009 PQRI. E-prescribing will be a stand-alone measure with its own bonus program in 2009. However, practices that qualified for PQRI by e-prescribing in 2008 can qualify in 2009 for both a PQRI payment incentive and an e-prescribing payment incentive by successfully reporting on three or more PQRI measures, in addition to e-prescribing.

In order to qualify for the e-prescribing bonus, a minimum of 10 percent of your Medi­care allowable charges must come from the office visit codes (Eye Codes, Evaluation & Management or consult codes). A practice must have a qualified e-prescribing system and successfully report at least 50 per­cent of the time. The Academy, however, recommends that you report on every patient encounter that generates an office visit code so that you don’t risk missing the 50 percent threshold. Beginning in 2012, eligible professionals who are not successful e-prescribers and do not qualify for one of the exemptions will experience a 1 percent reduction in payment as penalty. E-prescribing resources are available at www.aao.org/e-rx.

The 2009 PQRI program will again be voluntary and function similarly to the 2008 PQRI program, with a couple of new eye care measures (in addition to the five that were part of the 2008 program). The Academy worked with the AMA Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement and other ophthalmic organizations to create two new measures and one revised measure. Participating physicians will have to report on three quality measures 80 percent of the time. If fewer than three quality measures apply to your practice, you can report on fewer than three measures. However, you must do so 80 percent of the time. The bonus will be applied to 100 percent of Part B billings for the year except for drugs, other biologics and durable medical equipment. For more information, visit www.aao.org/pqri.

For those who report on quality measures under the PQRI, the e-prescribing bonus would be an additional 2 percent beyond the 2 percent 2009 PQRI incentive bonus.

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