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Young Ophthalmologists
From Femtosecond to Registries, Mid-Year Forum Provides Glimpse into Your Future
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Are you concerned about the effect CMS will have on how you practice ophthalmology? Do you wonder if a femtosecond laser would be a good addition to your practice? Do you have a clear picture of how your future as an ophthalmologist should and will differ from your optometrist colleagues in five years? To gain answers and clarity 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., that gives ophthalmologists the opportunity to discuss both the political issues and key priorities facing the profession. It encompasses a wide-range of events, including hearings on timely issues affecting ophthalmology, Academy committee and secretariat meetings, the Council meeting (which incorporates regional meetings, as well as both state and subspecialty section meetings) and Congressional Advocacy Day.

This year, the forum will be held April 25 to 28 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel. Here’s a more detailed preview of a few of the forum’s highlights.

Advocacy Ambassador Adam Chun with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
Advocacy Ambassador Adam Chun
with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Forum Event Highlights
One of the key events for young ophthalmologists is the Advocacy Ambassador Program. Started in 2004, this program brings residents and those completing fellowship training to the forum via their respective sponsoring state, subspecialty/specialized interest societies and/or training programs.

Not only do ambassadors participate in Advocacy Day with mentorship by Academy and society leaders, but they also are included in all forum sessions and invited as special guests at the council meeting. The Ambassador Program creates a fantastic opportunity to meet your colleagues as well as Academy leaders, including several YO committee and YO advocacy subcommittee members, many of whom themselves first attended the forum as part of the Ambassador Program.

The goal of the program is to engage and educate YOs early in their careers about the importance of advocating for their profession. 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 develop firsthand experience handling crucial concerns facing physicians and more specifically, ophthalmologists.

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 agenda:

  • Femtosecond: A Case Study in Physician Payment. While ophthalmologists have been using this technology for more than a decade, the FDA didn’t approve its expanded use for cataract surgery until 2009. Due to confusion over Medicare reimbursement for use of the laser in certain procedures, the Academy recently issued joint billing guidelines with the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

    The session will cover questions like: Will Medicare provide coverage for any of the indications approved or being considered for this relatively new, high-cost technology? Are you able to advertise and market the approved versus “off-label” indications of the laser? If you or your practice use femtosecond lasers, you cannot afford to miss this opportunity to discuss the legal, business, regulatory and ethical ramifications of using femto technology.
  • Will CMS Be the Next “Angie’s List”? As medical report cards 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. Leaders in physician profiling will offer their insights into this brave new world, followed by a group of ophthalmologists including YO Committee Chair Rob Melendez, MD, who will describe their early efforts to stay ahead of the curve
  • Keeping Innovation Alive: Balancing Science, Regulations, Business and Ethics. As a technology-rich specialty, ophthalmology has benefited from innovations in the pharmaceutical and device industries. Learn about the scientific challenges of bringing new products to market, including regulatory issues, off-label use, business considerations, advertising and ethical concerns.
  • What Do We Want Optometry’s Future to Be? Optometry has a clear mission regarding its future. But, what does ophthalmology believe optometry’s future should be? Whatever the conclusion, this session focuses on the pragmatic reality as well as the philosophical principles.
  • Learning from the Heart: Status of Medical Registries. As ophthalmologists wrangle with whether or not to participate in medical registries, why not learn from those who have already been there? Speakers from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology will discuss the value of registry participation as well as practical aspects of office workflow and implementation.

Advocacy Day< br /> While the entire Mid-Year Forum is valuable, one of the most critical components is Congressional Advocacy Day. OPHTHPAC Chairman Donald J. Cinotti, MD, will lead a dinner briefing on Wednesday, April 25, as preparation for the advocates’ day on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, April 26, Advocacy Day participants will visit members of Congress and their staff to lobby on behalf of ophthalmology. (YO Info will have more information next month about this important event.)

Don't Miss Out
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. Best of all, it’s a great way to 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 frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and ghostwriter of Eat Papayas Naked.

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