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What's Happening 

2010 Mid-Year Forum

In April, 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:

Ethical “No-Fly Zones” in Daily Practice. Declining reimbursement, increased government oversight, new patient demands, the influence of industry and the uncertain impact of health care reform all threaten the professional satisfaction ophthalmologists seek. This session illustrated how ophthalmologists should behave both legally and ethically when confronted with new ways to increase the bottom line, such as inappropriate relationships with industry, potentially misleading advertising, the upselling of premium IOLs and inappropriate comanagement arrangements.

The Quality Goes in Before the Bill Goes Out: What You Need to Know About Quality of Care Reporting. Physicians are increasingly being evaluated on measures of quality and performance, including efficiency. The Academy has been involved to ensure physicians have input on decisions about the future of quality measurement and improvement in the U.S. health care system. Increasingly, Medicare—the nation’s biggest purchaser of health care—is moving to tie physician payments to the quality of care. In deciding what treatments Medicare will cover, the agency must consider scientific evidence, comparative effectiveness research and what is “reasonable and necessary” for beneficiaries. The role of the Academy’s new Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care will be key in that process. For more information about the Hoskins Center, visit http://www.hoskinscenter.org.

What Will Medicare Reform Really Look Like? In March, Congress passed the most sweeping health care reform law in more than half a century. Independent of health care reform, there will also be physician payment reform. This session highlighted different methodologies and potential impacts on ophthalmology. Payment systems will no longer reward volume, but physician pay will be based on value in the future. What impact will an independent cost control commission have? How will ophthalmologists work in “Accountable Care Organizations” of the future? Speakers examined the impact of resource use feedback reports. They also discussed implementation of episode or other groupers on ophthalmology practice.

For more detailed information on all six MYF sessions, including summaries of audience comments, go to http://www.aao.org/myf.

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FYI 

Register by July 2 for MOC Course

The 2010 Maintenance of Certification Exam Review Course will be held July 23 to 25 in Rosemont, Ill. Interactive sessions are taught by a distinguished faculty of instructors who created the Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum and provide an in-depth review of the most relevant clinical information. The course includes the Core Ophthalmic Knowledge session on July 24 and your choice of Practice Emphasis Area (PEA) sessions on July 23 and/or July 25. Choose PEA sessions based on your selections for the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge exam.

For more information or to register, visit http://www.aao.org/review_course or call 866-561-8558.

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Go Online for Help with Pediatric Case

The Academy and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus have launched a new group in the Academy Online Community. This group provides Academy members a place to discuss clinical and practice issues and collaborate on challenging pediatric cases.

To join the conversation, visit http://www.aao.org/community, click “Groups” and search for “Pediatric Ophthalmology/ Strabismus.”

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Check Out the Revamped EyeSmart Site

As part of the Academy’s continuing efforts to position ophthalmologists as the only experts with the education and training to provide medical eye care, EyeSmart’s public awareness campaign has launched a host of new pages to its website (http://www.geteyesmart.org).

This expanded content includes discussions, images and videos on topics such as floaters and flashes, detached and torn retina, living with limited vision, retinopathy of prematurity and more. This website can be used to supplement Academy patient education materials.

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Update Your Membership

If you are completing your training and will start practicing this year, the Academy will automatically change your membership category for 2011 to “First Year of Practice.” If you are continuing your training, complete the Member Status and Training Update form by visiting http://www.aao.org and clicking “Member Services” and “Update Member Profile.”

For more information, 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.

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Participate in the Benchmarking Survey

The deadline for submitting fiscal year 2009 practice data for the Academy/AAOE Benchmarking Survey is June 30. Last year, 206 practices participated, resulting in the largest and most current sample of ophthalmology practice data available from any source. Only practices that complete the survey may access the database.

For more information or to participate, visit http://www.aao.org/benchmarking.

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New Fund for Host Project

The International Retinal Research Foundation has created the Alston Callahan, MD, FACS, Endowment Fund in support of ophthalmic education and cultural exchange.

Income from the $250,000 endowment will support the Academy’s host project, a collaborative effort of the Academy and individual Rotary clubs/districts to provide educational opportunities to ophthalmologists from developing nations.

The fund has been established in honor of Dr. Alston Callahan, a pioneer in ophthalmic plastic surgery and founder of both the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital and the International Retinal Research Foundation.

For more information about the host project and how you can support it, visit http://www.aao.org/international and click “Humanitarian Outreach” and “Host Programs.”

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Did You Know?

All Academy members receive a free listing in the Find an Eye M.D. online directory on the Academy’s Web site. Colleagues and potential patients can easily find you by last name, subspecialty, city, zip code or country. Your listing features practice contact information, your education, residency, fellowship and certification background, and any teaching positions. You can also list additional information accessible only by other Academy members, including your e-mail address, Academy committee and state society memberships, and awards you have received.

To access your listing on Find an Eye M.D., visit http://www.aao.org/find_eyemd.
cfm
. To update your listing, visit http://www.aao.org/member and click “Update Member Profile.” For more information, 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.

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Academy Store 

Order 2010 Coding Products Before July 31

Have you checked your coding reference books lately? Do you have the latest 2010 edition? The most current coding products can help to eliminate errors and reduce your practice’s risk of noncompliance. The last day to order the 2010 print editions is July 31.

To view all of the Academy’s coding products, visit http://www.aao.org/coding
products
. Save 10 percent when you purchase four or more coding products.

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Print and Hand Out Eye Fact Sheets on Demand

The Downloadable Eye Fact Sheet Subscription (#057158V) is a collection of more than 40 eye fact sheets in English (four in Spanish) that focus on specific eye conditions and treatment options.

All sheets have been redesigned in a full-color PDF format. You can download the files as often as you wish, save them to your computer, print only the quantity you need or e-mail them to your patients. With your annual subscription, you have access to new titles or updated versions as they become available. A one-year subscription is $99 for members and $134 for nonmembers.

To view all eye fact sheet titles, visit http://www.aao.org/store and enter the product number “057158V” in the search field.

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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Members At Large

Who’s in the News

Academy past-president Michael W. Brennan, MD, was interviewed in the March issue of Parade Magazine about his work in Iraq to help modernize medical care.

“We’ve reached nearly 2,000 Iraqi doctors through lectures, case presentations and discussions. We’ve also assisted Iraqi surgeons during procedures,” Dr. Brennan said. “Technological advances are rapidly being adopted in most specialties as a result of what we’ve done, Iraqi doctors’ efforts and U.S. assistance.”

Dr. Brennan also concluded that security is Iraqi doctors’ greatest need. “If you can’t feel comfortable driving to your hospital, how are you going to take care of your patients?”

Andrew G. Iwach, MD, and Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, were interviewed in the online edition of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review regarding Sensimed’s Triggerfish system. This monitoring device is designed to allow physicians to keep track of their patient’s IOP over 24 hours via a contact lens with embedded sensors. “From a scientific standpoint, this type of technology will be groundbreaking in letting us understand the relationship between eye pressure and glaucoma, and how treatments work over a 24-hour period,” Dr. Singh said. The company received safety approval for Triggerfish in Europe last year and is hoping for U.S. FDA approval by late 2011.

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Washington Report

Health Care Reform’s Provisions for Ophthalmology

While the passing of historic health care reform legislation in March marked the end of a yearlong skirmish, it leaves much work ahead for ophthalmology as implementation moves forward. The Academy joins many political and health care analysts in asserting that this monumental legislation will see many changes along the way.

A key disappointment in the legislation’s passing was the lack of an immediate long-term Medicare physician pay fix necessitated by the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. Congressional leadership separated this issue out from the original legislation, and organized medicine continues to demand action this year on a permanent solution. This and other problematic provisions were the basis for the Academy’s opposition to the final bill.

The Academy is closely following several near-term and future provisions in the legislation:

NEAR TERM

  • Enactment of a “nondiscrimination in health care” provision beginning Jan. 1, 2011, that would create confusion about different levels of education, skills and training among health care professionals, while immediately interjecting civil rights concepts into state scope of practice laws.
     
  • Creation of a Center for Medicare Innovation charged with testing innovative payment and service-delivery models designed to reduce Medicare and Medicaid expenditures, while preserving or enhancing the quality of beneficiary care starting Jan. 1, 2011.
     
  • Reliance on recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force for determining a minimum-coverage standard for preventive services and waiving cost-sharing requirements beginning Jan. 1, 2011.

FUTURE

  • Creation of an independent Medicare advisory commission charged with making payment cuts if Medicare spending increases more than 1.5 to 2 percent per year starting in 2014. Hospitals are exempted from these cuts, which leaves physicians to bear the brunt of $13.3 billion in savings the commission is expected to achieve over five years. Congress would have very little time to intervene to stop unfair cuts recommended by the commission.
     
  • Penalties for not participating in Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting Initiative beginning in 2015.
     
  • Implementation of a budget-neutral value-based purchasing modifier. This will be phased in beginning in 2015.
     
  • Public disclosure of individual physician data in the Medicare Physician Compare program beginning Jan. 1, 2013.
     
  • Establishing children’s vision as a minimum insurance benefit in the state exchanges that begin in 2014.

For more information about health care reform, visit http://www.aao.org/advocacy and click “Ophthalmology’s Perspective.”

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