We, the members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, had a remarkable year in 2018. I am immensely proud of the year’s achievements and the magnitude of work and dedication that went into them. I trust that this Year in Review will make you proud, too.
Our flagship educational products gained new enhancements, thanks to the vision and work of Senior Secretary for Clinical Education Lou Cantor, MD, Vice President of Education Dale Fajardo and a staff of 34, along with more than 600 physician volunteers. The Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network grew by 20 percent in 2018, including more than 300 new articles, 300 new videos and interviews, 25 new and revised CME activities, and a new weekly 1-Minute Video series. We also increased the ONE Network’s global access: Now more than ever, ophthalmic professionals everywhere can access critical tools and resources simply by picking up a mobile device. And we expanded the Academy’s franchise of journals to three with the launch of Ophthalmology® Glaucoma, delivering original articles on this important subspecialty.
The largest and most successful clinical data registry in the world, the IRIS® Registry has become an essential resource for ophthalmic professionals. Under the leadership of Medical Director of Health Policy Bill Rich, MD, Vice President of Quality and Data Science Flora Lum, MD, her staff, and numerous physician volunteers, ophthalmic practices are embracing and benefiting from this invaluable resource. Last year, 99 percent of Academy members who used it for MIPS reporting earned exceptional performance bonuses, and 100 percent avoided financial penalties. Of course, this financial value pales in comparison to improvements in patient care. As a clinical reference, the IRIS Registry is unrivaled. A $2 million gift from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation will deepen its pediatric database, establishing a permanent research fund for pediatric ophthalmology.
AAO 2018 welcomed physicians and health professionals from around the world to Chicago, where they were inspired by some 3,800 course instructors, moderators, panelists, authors and presenters — who themselves represented 70 countries. A talented crew of volunteers made our annual meeting a success: More than 100 physician volunteers supported the AAO 2018 program and 25 volunteers supported the AAOE 2018 program in collaboration with Secretary for Annual Meeting Maria Aaron, MD, and Vice President of Meetings and Exhibits Debra Rosencrance.
Annual meeting attendees included the inaugural class of the Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring program, which seeks to attract underrepresented minorities to a career in ophthalmology. These 22 medical students left AAO 2018 expressing “high interest” in ophthalmology. Congratulations to Secretary for Member Services Brad Feldman, MD, Secretary for Global Alliances Rich Abbott, MD, and Vice President of Membership and Alliances Jane Aguirre — and a special thanks to the organizations sponsoring this program.
The American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives continues to create indispensable business resources for our members, led by Senior Secretary for Ophthalmic Practice Robert Wiggins, MD, Ms. Rosencrance and their team. This year, AAOE introduced important new coding tools, including the Coding Audit Success Toolkit, and launched the Ophthalmology Business Summit “boot camp” addressing the complex challenges faced by today’s ophthalmic practices.
In 2018, our communications and marketing team of 29 staff and 22 physician volunteers, led by Secretary for Communications Dianna L. Seldomridge, MD, and Vice President for Communications and Marketing Renaldo Juanso, kept you informed of the latest news, products and services, and taught the public about the value of medical and surgical eye care. They set industry benchmarks for excellence in communications, capturing national awards for the public awareness campaign to increase eye safety during a solar eclipse and the animated video feature, “Eight Steps to Protect Your Sight From Contact Lens Infections.”
Finally, this was a landmark year for advocacy. The Academy’s governmental affairs team — Senior Secretary for Advocacy Daniel J. Briceland, MD, Vice President of Governmental Affairs Cathy Cohen and their 17 staff and 84 physician volunteers — achieved big wins during the year: They helped enable your success in the MIPS program, lobbied Congress to shield your Part B drug reimbursements from penalties and partnered with several state societies to defeat legislative proposals that would have put patients at risk.
The landscape of medicine will continue to change, but the dedication of the Academy’s 32,000 members will keep ophthalmology strong. This look back at 2018 shows our powerful commitment to education, advocacy, the best clinical and business resources, and most of all, our patients. We’ll continue to build on these achievements to advance our great profession and enrich the lives of countless patients.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your president in 2018. It has been a true privilege.
Keith D. Carter, MD