American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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Eye M.D.s Victorious in Quest for State and Federal Posts
Three ophthalmologists were elected to state and federal offices in last November’s elections.
These victories are a historic achievement for ophthalmology on many levels; never before have so many of our colleagues been elected to serve in public office. Dr. Paul will be the first-ever ophthalmologist to serve in the U.S. Senate, and Dr. Hayworth is the first ophthalmologist elected to the U.S. House since Rep. John C. Cooksey (R–La.), who served six years ending in 2003. Dr. Mosier will be the only ophthalmologist currently serving in a state legislature.
The Academy congratulates these doctors on their victories and looks forward to working with them in the coming years on the critical issues facing ophthalmology.
SF AMS Earns AMCI Accreditation
San Francisco Association Management Services (SF AMS), a subsidiary of the Academy, received Association Management Company Institute (AMCI) accreditation last November.
Of the more than 600 association management companies worldwide, fewer than 10 percent have become accredited and in doing so have demonstrated the commitment and ability to deliver the highest level of services to their association clients.
For more information about SF AMS, visit www.sf-ams.com.
On Oct. 16, voting opened for four positions on the 2011 board of trustees.
The results are as follows:
For more information, visit www.aao.org/bot.
Nominations for the Academy Board
As past president of the Academy, it is my privilege to serve as chairman of the Academy’s Nominating Committee in 2011.
This committee represents a variety of interests within the Academy and is charged with identifying appropriate candidates for the open positions on the 2012 board of trustees.
We are especially interested in identifying leaders in our profession with experience in confronting the critical issues facing organized medicine and who reflect the strength and diversity of our members. The Academy’s leaders should be knowledgeable, experienced and prepared to devote the time and energy required by a large organization in these challenging times. This work is both demanding and rewarding for those interested in helping to assure the Academy’s success and responsiveness to members. With these characteristics in mind, I ask you to assist the committee by suggesting appropriate candidates for the following positions in 2012:
Thank you for your interest and participation in this process. Membership participation is vital, not only for the Academy but also for our collective goals of being able to provide appropriate, accessible and affordable eye care to the public. On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I look forward to receiving your suggestions as we seek to identify our profession’s future leaders.
Send your confidential suggestions by Feb. 1 to Randolph L. Johnston, MD, Nominating Committee Chair, American Academy of Ophthalmology, P.O. Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. Suggestions can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 415-561-8526.
For more information, visit www.aao.org/about and click “Governance,” “Elections” and “Nomination Process.”
New International Advisors to Academy’s Board of Trustees
The Academy has appointed two international advisors to its board of trustees for 2011: Alaa El-Danasoury, MD, of Saudi Arabia and J. Antonio Roca, MD, of Peru.
The advisors will attend board of trustee meetings as nonvoting members and will advise the board on relevant topics or issues in order to provide the views of members outside the United States. The board of trustees selected these two advisors from two of four supranational regions for one-year terms. This is the second year of this two-year pilot program, which will be reassessed later this year.
The Academy Honors Latest Life Members
The physicians below have been members of the Academy for 35 consecutive years. The Academy honors them for their support by granting them “life” status.
Afzal Ahmad, MD
International Ophthalmologist Education Award
The Academy is pleased to announce the recipients of the International Ophthalmologist Education Award for 2010. This award acknowledges Academy members who have demonstrated their commitment to staying current with advances in medicine through participation in CME and professional development.
Eugeny L. Akopov, MD, PhD (Russia)
The award is open to all international members not currently enrolled in a training program. To receive this award, members must obtain 90 CME credits within three years of applying.
To apply, visit www.aao.org/international.
International Scholar Award
The Academy is pleased to announce the recipients of the International Scholar Award for 2010. This award acknowledges Academy members who have already received the International Ophthalmologist Education Award and further demonstrated their commitment to lifelong learning.
Yousef I. Al-Megbel, MD (Saudi Arabia)
The award is open to all international members not currently enrolled in a training program. To receive this award, members must obtain 60 CME credits within two years of applying, complete a timed, online self-assessment test and be a past recipient of the International Ophthalmologist Education Award.
To apply, visit www.aao.org/international.
AAOE Announces Its Board of Directors
Albert Castillo is the 2011 AAOE chairman and Traci Fritz, COE, will serve as past chairwoman. Julia Lee, JD, OCS, rotated off the board in December, while Sandra Curd, MBA, COE, COA, OCS, Elise Levine, OCS, Gregory Brinton, MD, MBA, and Dianna Seldomridge, MD, MBA, continue their board service. David A. Durfee, MD, also continues to represent the AAOE on the Academy board of trustees in his role as senior secretary for Ophthalmic Practice.
For more information about members of the AAOE board, visit www.aao.org/aaoesite/about_us.cfm.
Q: I’m not sure how to respond when a patient sends me a “friend request” on a social networking website. Are there ethical concerns with using such sites to communicate with patients?
A: There are no specific ethical concerns under the rules of the Academy’s Code of Ethics regarding the use of social networking sites to communicate with patients. However, from a practical standpoint, this issue is analogous to the general taboo of establishing a therapeutic relationship with friends or family. In both situations, boundaries between personal and professional relationships can become indistinct. Usually, such relationships are problematic enough that physicians generally avoid them. The AMA expressly recommends avoiding treatment of family, as do many state licensing boards specific to prescribing.
Seeing patients socially is also potentially problematic, but clearly will depend on the specifics (i.e., whether the social link is a distant acquaintance, a friendship, a business interest, etc.).
A problem unique to networking sites is that when one approaches another with a friend request, the response must be binary—either yes or no. This does not allow the latitude of conventional social interactions, in which we take advantage of infinite shades of acquaintanceship that can be calibrated to the situation. Such shading is not conveniently available in the way networking sites are structured, except perhaps by granting access to more or less of one’s information.
A physician need not abstain from a presence on such sites but might consider a policy of not befriending patients in order to keep social life and patient care separate, and to minimize potential complexities.
Alternatively, a separate online persona could be developed for professional interactions, though this has all of the problems inherent in electronic communications with patients. These problems include protection of confidentiality, giving medical advice without examination, inability to bill for such services and a substantial investment in time for these activities.
For more information or to submit a question for this column, contact the Ethics Committee staff at email@example.com. To read the Code of Ethics, visit www.aao.org/about and click “Ethics” and “Code of Ethics.”
Talk About EHRs With Your Colleagues
Check out the “EHRs in Ophthalmology” group in the Academy Online Community and discover many topics under discussion, including implementation and training, transitioning from one provider to another, and the “meaningful use” incentive program. You can even take part in a poll and find out which EHR systems other members are using.
If you have experience with EHR systems that you’d like to share, are about to take the plunge with a new system or are simply interested in finding out more, join the group by visiting www.aao.org/community, clicking “Groups” and searching for “EHRs in Ophthalmology.”
Check Out New Practice Guidelines for Informed Consent
Practice Guidelines for Informed Consent is available as a free downloadable PDF file on the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE) Network. The guidelines offer practical benchmarks for best practices related to informed consent and are applicable to the full range of ophthalmic practice settings, including private practice, hospital clinics and academic programs.
The guidelines were developed by the Committee for Practice Improvement with oversight from the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company risk management staff.
To download the guidelines, visit www.aao.org/one, click on the “Practice Guidelines” tab and select “Patient Safety.”
Renew Your Academy Membership for 2011
By now you should have received your membership renewal packet in the mail. Renew immediately so you can continue to take full advantage of all the benefits of Academy membership. To ensure uninterrupted benefits, your Academy membership must be paid by June 1.
To renew your membership online, visit www.aao.org/member/paydues. You also can renew by mail, fax or phone, as specified in your renewal packet.
If you have questions, please contact Member Services by phone, 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or call 415-561-8581, by fax, 415-561-8575, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeking Outstanding Ophthalmologists
Would you like to nominate a colleague for this year’s Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award?
The Academy must receive your nomination by March 11. The award recognizes Academy fellows and members for outstanding contributions to humanitarian efforts, such as participation in charitable activities, care of the indigent and community service.
To obtain a nomination form, 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, email@example.com. You can also complete a nomination form online by visiting www.aao.org and clicking “Member Services” and “Learn About Awards.”
Board Approves Policy Revisions
The Academy board of trustees has voted to approve revisions to the Disclosure of Professionally Related Commercial Relationships and Interests advisory opinion.
For more information, visit www.aao.org/about and click “Ethics” and “Advisory Opinions.”
Access Codes on Your Mobile Device
Have your one-stop coding reference on hand everywhere you go. The Ophthalmic Coding Coach Mobile Subscription for MDs (#codngmobile), an abridged version of the popular Ophthalmic Coding Coach book, is now available on mobile devices with an Internet connection as a 12-month subscription. Content is searchable by code or keyword and updated quarterly.
A subscription for one user is $150 for members and $195 for nonmembers.
Save on Multi-User Licenses for Select Coding Products
Save 10 to 40 percent off the regular price of Coding Coach Online Multi-User Subscription and ICD-9 for Ophthalmology Online Multi-User Subscription when you purchase for multiple users.
With these subscriptions, individual users can log in simultaneously at different desktops, either PC or Mac, using their own passwords.
Visit www.aao.org/store to download the special order form and to view pricing structures for multiple user subscriptions. Enter code “codng coach” or “icdonline” in the search field and click on the multi-user subscription order form link.
Submit Abstracts for Papers, Posters and Videos
If you are interested in being a presenter at this year’s Annual Meeting, abstracts must be submitted online:
For instruction courses and skills transfer courses, the online submitter closes on Jan. 11.
For paper, posters and videos, the online submitter opens on March 16 and closes on April 12.
Be sure to review the abstract guidelines before making your submission.
Claim Your 2010 Chicago CME Credits by Jan. 19
The CME credits that you earned at the 2010 Joint Meeting and/or Subspecialty Day in Chicago must be reported by Jan. 19.
As a service to members only, the Academy maintains a transcript of Academy-sponsored CME credits earned, provided members report those credits to the Academy. Members may also 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.
2010 Best of Show Videos
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2010 Best of Show video awards at the Joint Meeting in Chicago. The nine winning videos were selected by the Annual Meeting Program Committee based on educational value, originality and expert use of medium.
To view any of the 2010 videos online, visit www.aao.org/2010 and select “Scientific Program,” “Meeting Archives” and “Videos on Demand.”
This year’s recipients were:
2010 Best Original Papers
Congratulations to the authors of the Best Original Papers at the 2010 Joint Meeting in Chicago. The winning papers were selected by the panels in each of the paper sessions.
Sunday’s Best Papers were:
Monday’s Best Papers were:
Tuesday’s Best Papers were:
To view the Best Original Papers abstracts, go to www.aao.org/2010, click “Scientific Program” and “Joint Meeting Program Search,” and type in the paper’s Event Code.
State Affairs Star Awards
The Academy’s secretariat for State Affairs honored three societies with its State Affairs Star Award during the 2010 Joint Meeting in Chicago.
“This marks the 10th year of the State Affairs Star Awards, and we are excited that we continue to be able to recognize such remarkable efforts by our state ophthalmology societies,” said Daniel J. Briceland, MD, the Academy’s secretary for State Affairs.
Three societies received the award for their outstanding programs:
To contact your state ophthalmology society, visit www.aao.org/statesocieties.
Joan W. Miller, MD, was selected to receive the 2010 Women in Ophthalmology/ Suzanne Veronneau-Troutman Award. The annual award was presented to Dr. Miller during the Academy’s Joint Meeting in Chicago. The award is given in recognition of the woman who has done the most in the preceding year to promote the role of women in ophthalmology.
“I am greatly honored to receive this award,” Dr. Miller said. “This acknowledgment by my peers is a meaningful validation of my own professional goals and efforts to succeed as a clinician-scientist, to support female physician and research colleagues and to mentor younger women ophthalmologists and vision scientists who will take the mantle of leadership in the decades to come.”
The Cornea Society awarded Vanitha Ratnalingam, MSurg, with the 2010 Cornea Society/Richard C. Troutman, MD, DSc. (HON) Prize during the annual scientific meeting of the society this past October.
The award is bestowed annually by the society for the paper published in Cornea during the previous year judged to be most outstanding and innovative, and authored by an investigator 40 years of age or younger. The award-winning paper was titled “Fibrin Adhesive Is Better Than Sutures in Pterygium Surgery.”
Thomas Jefferson University has awarded William S. Tasman, MD, with its Achievement Award in Medicine. The award honors individuals who have achieved and maintained excellence in their profession and who have actively contributed to the growth and development of their field.
Dr. Tasman has served as president of the Academy, the American Ophthalmological Society and the Retina Society, and chairman of the American Board of Ophthalmology. He has also received the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1985, Dr. Tasman became ophthalmologist-in-chief of Wills Eye Hospital and chairman of the department of ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. In 2007, he moved to the position of professor and emeritus chairman at Jefferson Medical College.
2011 Medicare Physician Pay
With Congress passing a one-year fix of the sustainable growth rate formula, ophthalmology’s pool of Medicare revenue will increase slightly, according to the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule. In 2010, ophthalmology payments were nearly $5.3 billion. They are projected to increase to $5.5 billion by 2013. This is due in large part to continued increases to practice expense values (won by the Academy) that began implementation in 2010.
However, the rule shows significant cuts to several eye codes. The reduced payments result from values recommended by the AMA Specialty Society Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) and accepted by CMS. Intravitreal injection, iridotomy and blepharoplasty will see decreases. Intravitreal injection was specifically targeted by CMS even though preliminary review by the RUC accepted the Academy’s rationale for increased utilization. The reduction in the value of iridotomy is due in part to a change from a 90- to a 10-day global period, but any office visits after 10 days will now be separately billable. These cuts are offset by the payment increases for eye-visit codes and ophthalmic surgeries such as cataract (due to the increases for E&M visits that are part of surgical services). The impact of these changes on your practice depends on the mix of services you provide.
Congress, the RUC and CMS also continue to target imaging for reductions. Billing for scanning computerized diagnostic testing will no longer be on a per-eye basis. CPT code 92135 Scanning computerized ophthalmic diagnostic imaging, posterior segment has been deleted and replaced with three new CPT codes that specify the part of the eye being imaged: anterior segment, optic nerve and retina (92132, 92133 and 92134, respectively).
Ophthalmology gains would be more significant in 2011 except that CMS is required to offset increases in overall payments through what are known as “budget-neutrality adjustments” applied to the conversion factor. These changes mean that, even with congressional action on the sustainable growth rate, the 2011 conversion factor is slightly reduced for all physicians from the 2010 level.
The final rule also implements provisions of last year’s health care reform that expand preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries and adds visual function reviews to the new wellness visit. Such assessments may result in increased referrals to ophthalmology.
Ophthalmology is steady in overall payments due to a mixed bag of increases and decreases.