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2012 Mid-Year Forum
In late April, more than 450 Eye M.D.s gathered in Washington, D.C., to question regulators, legislators, and Academy leaders about some of ophthalmology’s most critical issues. EyeNet touches on three Mid-Year Forum sessions below.
Physician Profiling and the Demands for Accountability—Will CMS Be the Next “Angie’s List”? Under the health care reform law, consumers, employers, and insurance companies will soon have access to Medicare claims data about individual physicians. This will enable qualified organizations to analyze billing records and glean critical information that consumers are demanding, such as how often a doctor has performed a particular procedure and the doctor’s history of preventable complications. These medical report cards could become a powerful tool for driving improvements in quality care and reducing waste. They also create a myriad of potential issues for ophthalmologists and their practices. In this session, CMS leaders in physician profiling offered their insights into this brave new world, followed by a group of ophthalmologists who described their early efforts as being ahead of the curve.
Learning From the Heart: Status of Medical Registries. This session focused on why physicians would want to participate in medical registries and how ophthalmologists can learn from medical societies that have already developed them. Guest speakers from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology explored the value of registry participation as well as the practical aspects of office workflow and implementation.
Femtosecond: A Case Study in Physician Payment. Without clear evidence of improved patient outcomes and no Medicare reimbursement, femtosecond laser may look like a risky addition to an ophthalmology practice. However, there is no denying that the technology is here to stay. This session focused on the legal, business, and regulatory ramifications of the device and looked at the best ways to approach this new technology that take into account today’s complicated reimbursement realities. Participants discussed the limits around marketing the approved versus “off-label” indications of the laser, and whether Medicare will provide coverage for any of the indications approved or being considered for this new high-cost technology.
For more information on the Mid-Year Forum or Congressional Advocacy Day, go to www.aao.org/myf.
|OPHTHALMOLOGISTS GET INVOLVED. Hundreds of ophthalmologists attended meetings on Capitol Hill at this year’s Congressional Advocacy Day, a unique opportunity held in conjunction with the Mid-Year Forum. At the event, Michigan Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons councilor Robert J. Granadier, MD (immediately left of center), joined a contingent of Michigan ophthalmologists in recognizing Rep. Dan Benishek, MD (R–Mich., center), with the Academy’s 2012 Visionary Award for leadership on issues of importance to ophthalmology. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (VA), Rep. Benishek sponsored H.R. 3216 (the Veterans Health Administration Ophthalmologic Service Establishment Act) to establish an ophthalmologic service in the VA and add a full-time national program director for ophthalmology to the VA’s Office of the Under Secretary for Health.
|ONE SPOTLIGHT: New OTA Available. The Ophthalmic Technology Assessment (OTA), titled Detection of Clinically Significant Retinopathy of Prematurity Using Wide-Angle Digital Retinal Photography, appeared in the June Ophthalmology and is also available on the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE) Network.
This OTA reviews the clinical evidence and concludes that wide-angle digital retinal photography has the potential to complement management of standard ROP. Benefits of this technology include objective documentation of clinical examination findings, improved recognition of disease progression, and the creation of image libraries for education and research.
To read this OTA and 40 others, visit www.aao.org/one and select “Practice Guidelines” and “Ophthalmic Technology Assessments.” Full text is free to members and Ophthalmology subscribers.
Subscribe to Focal Points Online and in Print
Focal Points provides a practical explanation of disease diagnosis and management. The 2012 program delivers 12 modules written and reviewed by leading experts. Titles include Update on Orbital Tumors, Advances in the Surgical Treatment of Keratoconus, and Update on Glaucoma Surgery.
Focal Points is available in print and online formats. The online format features enhancements such as videos of surgical techniques in selected modules; links to references, resources, and CME Central; and tools for bookmarking and highlighting. A one-year subscription (product #focalpts) to both formats is $197 for members and $262 for nonmembers.
For more information and other pricing and subscription options, visit www.aao.org/store and search “Focal Points.”
Check Out the Academy’s Updated Surgical Instruction Textbook
The second edition of Basic Principles of Ophthalmic Surgery (#0283003) aids instructors, residents, and trainees by introducing many of the key concepts and elements of the ophthalmic surgery process.
Topics include patient selection; preparations for both the surgeon and patient; surgical instruments and materials; specific aspects of surgery such as patient safety and anesthesia; and postoperative considerations. Each chapter is fully illustrated and incorporates self-assessment tests and suggested reading lists.
This textbook and its companion volume, Basic Techniques of Ophthalmic Surgery (#0283002), each costs $83 for members and $115 for nonmembers.
|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.
OphthPAC Amplifies Academy’s Voice
The past few years have been politically tumultuous for both patients and physicians. With Congress now focusing on the November elections, further uncertainty prevails—especially for Medicare physician reimbursement. The OphthPAC fund is the Academy’s voluntary, nonpartisan political action committee dedicated to advancing ophthalmology’s interests at the federal level. Academy member support of OphthPAC helps elect legislators who understand ophthalmology’s issues and who will fight for the future of the profession. OphthPAC also enhances the Academy’s ability to build relationships with legislators and is one of the most successful political action committees in the health care community. These relationships have led to several recent victories:
• Congress stopped a 27 percent Medicare physician pay cut scheduled for Jan. 1, 2012.
• The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adopted Academy-sought revisions to the Medicare electronic health record incentive, helping ophthalmologists to qualify for up to $44,000 in incentive payments over four years.
• CMS adopted updated practice expense data that resulted in increased Medicare payments to ophthalmologists.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs health care system maintained its ban on optometric surgery.
• The Veterans Health Administration hired a full-time ophthalmology chief.
OphthPAC remains fully engaged in the 2012 election process, endorsing and supporting candidates who understand the challenges that ophthalmologists and their patients face. With the assistance of OphthPAC and other specialty PACs, there currently are 20 physicians in Congress, including two ophthalmologists. OphthPAC is working to further influence the composition of Congress to include more physician-friendly legislators.
While the national media is focused on this year’s political races, the Academy knows that the uncertainties facing ophthalmologists and their patients will continue to grow. Unless Congress acts, physicians again face a 27 percent Medicare pay cut, on Jan. 1, 2013. For this reason alone, it is critical that ophthalmology has advocates in Congress who understand the challenges and inequities such a cut poses and who will stand with physicians and patients.
Help support the Academy’s efforts by making your 2012 contribution to OphthPAC. Every contribution—$50, $500, or $5,000—will make a difference in the November elections.
To make a donation and to find more information about OphthPAC, visit www.aao.org/ophthpac.
|MUSEUM: THIS MONTH IN OPHTHALMIC HISTORY. After a trial examination in December 1916, the American Board for Ophthalmic Examinations held its first regularly scheduled examination in June 1917. Those who passed the exam were then considered diplomates of the ABOE, which was renamed American Board of Ophthalmology in 1933. (The photograph of ABO diplomates above was taken in 1942.)
For more facts on ophthalmic history, visit www.museumofvision.org.
MEMBERS AT LARGE
Melvin L. Rubin, MD, was selected by the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Association to receive the UCSF 2012 Alumnus of the Year Award, the highest honor given by the association. The award is presented to those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to medicine as outstanding physicians through service in their respective fields. Dr. Rubin’s areas of special interest are retinal/vitreous diseases, optics, and refraction.
“I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition,” said past Academy executive vice president H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD. “Mel’s lifelong committment to excellence and his wonderfully kind support of students and colleagues are recognized throughout ophthalmology. He brings out the best in all of us with his uniquely graceful and humble way.”
Dr. Rubin is currently professor of ophthalmology and chairman emeritus at University of Florida College of Medicine. He has also served as Academy president and chairman of the Academy’s Foundation. In addition, the Academy presented Dr. Rubin with the Special Recognition Award in 2010.
An Academy fellow since 1963, Dr. Rubin joined a group of other members in 1970 on the first Academy Committee on Continuing Education. That committee was instrumental in initiating most of the Academy’s current education activities, including the Basic and Clinical Science Course, the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program, the Focal Point clinical updates, the young ophthalmologists group, and the Ophthalmology journal, among others.
John G. Clarkson, MD, has been named to receive one of two Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. National Physician of the Year Awards for lifetime achievement.
Dr. Clarkson is a nationally distinguished practitioner, researcher, and educator who currently serves as executive director and CEO of the American Board of Ophthalmology and dean emeritus and professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
The National Physician of the Year Awards recognize both physicians and leaders in health care whose dedication, talents, and skills have improved the lives of countless thousands of people throughout the world.
Who’s in the News
FoxNews.com interviewed Stephen C. Pflugfelder, MD, for an April 6 story on dry eye treatment. He recommended warm compresses for dryness to help liquefy clogged tear glands. “If cells in the glands harden and plug the opening, it can keep the [eye’s] oil from getting into the tear film,” Dr. Pflugfelder said. “Without that oil, the water in tears evaporates too quickly.”