Are you concerned about how healthcare reform will change how you practice medicine? Are cuts to Medicare keeping you up at night? Do you wonder what the line between ophthalmology and optometry will look like 20 years from now? For thoughts and insights on all these questions and more, you need to attend this year’s Mid-Year Forum.
If you haven’t yet attended, the forum is a four-day annual conference in Washington, D.C., which gives ophthalmologists the opportunity to discuss both the political issues and key priority areas facing the profession. In a nutshell, it encompasses a wide-range of events, including speaker presentations, Academy committee and secretariat meetings, the Council meeting (which incorporates regional meetings, as well as both state and subspecialty section meetings), hearings on timely issues affecting ophthalmology and Congressional Advocacy Day.
This year, the forum will be held April 21 to 24 at the Capital Hilton. Here’s a more detailed preview of a few of the forum’s highlights.
While the entire forum is valuable, one of the critical components is Congressional Advocacy Day. The dinner briefing will be led by Congressional Advocacy Chairman Donald J. Cinotti, MD, who will detail the Academy’s continuing effort to implement widespread changes to the health care system, as well as Medicare.
Additionally, Dr. Cinotti and others will ensure that all participants are provided with “issue briefs” prepared by the Academy’s Washington, D.C., office so that you fully understand the issues and the Academy’s positions.
Before heading to the Hill, participants attend the continental breakfast, during which time last minute questions are answered. Then, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., advocates visit members of Congress and their staff to lobby on behalf of ophthalmology. All meetings are pre-arranged by the Washington office based on participants’ home zip codes.
Forum Event Highlights
One of the key events for young ophthalmologists is the Advocacy Ambassador’s Program. Started in 2004 (in collaboration with state societies, subspecialty/specialized interest societies and training programs), this program brings residents and those completing fellowship training to the forum, so they can participate not only in Advocacy Day, but in all forum sessions, and as special guests at the Council meeting.
The goal of the program is to engage and educate YOs about the importance of advocating for their profession early on in their careers. The Ambassador program also helps YOs understand the importance of membership and proactive involvement in their respective state ophthalmology and subspecialty societies. Most importantly, by participating in Advocacy Day and the forum, YOs see firsthand the critical issues facing medicine and specifically ophthalmology.
During the forum itself, there are a variety of presentations and hearings that address critical issues facing ophthalmology today. Here’s a quick peek at this year’s topics:
- What Will Medicare Reform Really Look Like? Discover how the different methodologies will affect how you practice medicine in the future and the resources that will help you weather the storm.
- Ethical “No-Fly Zones” in Daily Practice. With the impending changes to reimbursement and health care in general on the horizon, the temptation to tread precariously close to the ethics line may be, well, tempting. Learn how to navigate these issues both legally and ethically.
- What You Need to Know About Quality-of-Care Reporting. Learn what the Academy is doing to ensure that physicians have a voice in the decisions surrounding the future of quality measurement and improvement in our health care system.
- How Tweet It Is: Social Media’s Role in Clinical and Patient Education. Learn how this shorthand communication tool can support patient education as well as advocacy.
- What Will It Take to Get Paid for Using EHR? Learn the new provisions for the Department of Health and Human Services’ certification for electronic health record systems and how you can demonstrate “meaningful use” in order to qualify for incentive payments.
Clearly, this year’s Mid-Year Forum and Advocacy Day will provide a wealth of information and terrific opportunities for all who attend. Register today if you haven’t yet secured your place.
And even if you cannot attend, you can still represent ophthalmology’s interests. One of the best ways to do so is by joining your state ophthalmology society and learning about the challenges confronting your state and fellow practitioners. Legislative threats to patient safety have increased over past few years, with bills in 21 different states. Is yours one of them? Join your society to find out and help them educate your community about the unique skills and education of ophthalmologists.
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About the author: Kimberly Day is a freelance health writer and medical editor and a frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and ghost writer of Eat Papayas Naked.