TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE
LEGISLATION AND PROFESSIONAL
President Explains Challenges Facing the AOA in the Coming Year
Thomas Crooks, III, O.D.
With several vision-related bills before Congress and numerous public health initiatives underway, 2007 may be a very busy year for the American Optometric Association (AOA). In a recent interview, AOA President Thomas Crooks, III, O.D., discussed the challenges the organization faces in the coming year as well as its goals for the future of optometry.
Legislative battles loom in 2007. Dr. Crooks says H.R. 5688, the Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2006, is designed to discriminate against optometrists and confuse the public. "The AOA has been urging members of Congress to oppose this initiative and to reject organized medicine's efforts to misinform patients, malign the integrity of optometrists and other non-M.D. providers, and undermine the authority of the states to license health care providers," he adds. The bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.
S. 2480 and H.R. 5762 would amend the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) to require contact lens manufacturers make limited-distribution lenses available through all channels of distribution. Dr. Crooks says the AOA has been working diligently to combat these efforts. "The AOA has been on the front lines of ensuring that Congress understands the prescription verification abuses that are being overlooked in these attempts to rewrite the FCLCA. The AOA has worked with Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) to introduce H.R. 6117, legislation that would strengthen the contact lens prescription verification safeguards intended to protect patients."
The AOA supports two bills that would ensure children get access to vision care. S. 3685, the Vision Care for Kids Act of 2006, would provide federal grants to states to provide eye exams and follow-up treatment services to children identified through a vision screening or eye exam. It would also provide educational materials on recognizing signs of visual impairment in children.
"This important legislation would ... bolster children's vision initiatives in the states and [encourage] children's vision partnerships with non-profit entities, including groups as committed to the cause of safeguarding the sight of America's children as state optometric associations," says Dr. Crooks.
H.R. 2238, the Children's Vision Improvement and Learning Readiness Act, would create a $75 million program to boost state children's vision initiatives. Dr. Crooks says AOA-backed grassroots efforts succeeded in adding more than 200 co-sponsors to this legislation. "[The bill] would encourage the establishment of programs to increase public awareness of vision disorders in children," he says.
The AOA also works to improve the outlook for optometrists. "Right now, there seems to be a lack of opportunities, or at least the perception of a lack of opportunities, in the private sector," says Dr. Crooks. "AOA is concerned about doing what we can to insure that our graduates have as many opportunities as possible."
The AOA also moved quickly to provide aid to those who were affected by last year's devastating hurricanes with the creation of the Optometric Disaster Relief Fund. "In record time, we created, funded (with help from our industry partners) and implemented the disaster fund and came to the aid of 113 doctors who were severely affected. It is now time to replenish the fund to make sure that we are ready and able to be of assistance when the next disaster strikes," says Dr. Crooks.
The AOA is restructuring its charitable organizations to come under one entity in 2007, the American Optometric Association Foundation for Science, Education and Charity, (AOA-FSEC) which will include The International Library, Archives & Museum of Optometry, InfantSEE, Disaster Project Team, AOA Endowment Fund, Vision Awareness Network, VISION USA, and the Council on Research.
TVCI Names Clompus Director
The Vision Care Institute of Vistakon (TVCI) has appointed Richard Clompus, O.D., to the position of director. Dr. Clompus will replace Howard Purcell, O.D., who has been named senior director of new program development for Vistakon.
Richard Clompus, O.D.
Dr. Clompus has experience in corporate and private practice as well as educational settings. He served as vice president, professional affairs for The Spectacle Lens Group of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. Prior to Johnson & Johnson, he managed his own primary care optometric practice. He has been a clinical faculty member of The Eye Institute at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
Dr. Clompus has received many honors and awards including "Best and Brightest Optometrists," American Optometric Association's National Recognition Award for Continuing Education, and Optometrist of the Year Award.
Since March 2004, TVCI has hosted more than 2,000 students from all 19 of the schools and colleges of optometry throughout North America. Located in Jacksonville, Fla., TVCI has sister facilities in Brazil, Korea, Taiwan and the Czech Republic.
Study Finds Lid Scrub Benefits
In a recent time-kill study conducted by the lab Care BioPharma, OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Plus Extra Strength showed a 5.5 log reduction of Staphylococcus epidermidis, while a competing scrub's rate measured a 3.5 log reduction. The measurements were taken after both products were subjected to the pathogen for 60 seconds.
A separate study on irritation by Tox Monitor Laboratories placed Lid Scrub Plus in the "Practically Non-Irritating" category, an entire rating category milder than the competitor. CYNACON/OCuSOFT expects to formally introduce Lid Scrub Plus this month.
WHO IS WEARING WHAT?
White Paper Targets CL Demographics
Contact lens distributor Imperial Optical has published a white paper that reports demographic data from consumers who have conducted online searches for branded contact lenses. David M. Pearce, Imperial director of sales and marketing, says the information in the paper ("Marketing Contact Lenses Contact Lens Demographics: A Guide to Who Wants Which Brands") can provide optometrists with a tool to create more effective marketing campaigns.
"Armed with the knowledge of who, by sex and age, is conducting online searches for branded contact lens products, contact lens fitters can significantly improve campaign conversion rates, reduce acquisition costs and increase return on investment," says Mr. Pearce.
The white paper is based on consumer searches on google.com during July 2006 for leading contact lenses. It reports, for example, that of those who searched for Acuvue Oasys lenses, 73% were female and almost 50% were ages 25-34. However, 59% of those who search for PureVision continuous wear lenses (Bausch & Lomb) were male and one-third were ages 35-44.
For a free copy of the report, visit www.imperialoptical.com.
IMPLEMENT GOALS OR BUDGETS
Independent O.D.s Show Financial Weakness, Says MBA Survey
A survey of business practices revealed that financial management is a weakness for most independent optometrists.
The ongoing survey, conducted by the Management & Business Academy (MBA) through its database of nearly 500 of the largest optometric practices in the nation, reported that only 21% of the independent O.D.s surveyed develop a written annual budget. Forty-seven percent do not define annual revenue goals. And perhaps not surprisingly, 35% say they are "very" or "extremely" uncomfortable with financial management. Only 14% are "very satisfied" with the net return of their practice.
Most independents report that the biggest management challenge is staffing. In 2005-2006, the average staff turnover was 17%, or about one in six employees each year. Fifty-four percent do not provide an annual written performance appraisal and 89% do not develop written qualifications for each staff position. One-third of those surveyed conduct staff meetings on a quarterly basis or less often.
The survey also reported that most optometrists invest little in marketing and promotions. In fact, the median gross revenue spent for marketing is 1.2%. Among those surveyed, only 11% continuously monitor patient satisfaction. Of the 77% that have a practice Web site, 74% update the site infrequently every six months or less.
Sponsored by CIBA Vision and Essilor of America, the MBA offers staff management tools and guidelines, available at no cost at www.mba-ce.com.
PATIENT CARE INCOME AND EXPENSE AREAS
Begin to Chart the Course for Your Practice
By Barbara Anan Kogan, O.D.
Chances are, you manage a practice that is dynamic, continually offering new products and services to better meet the needs of a diverse patient population. These changes directly affect your practice's income and expense areas vital numbers that are easily identified through practice management (PM) software programs.
With or without PM software, every optometric practice needs to chart income and expenses. Here's how:
On a monthly basis, set aside an extra 20 minutes to identify specific sources of your income from patients and the expense-related areas. Use an Excel or spreadsheet program (or your PM software) to tally up these data:
1. number of new exams
2. number of re-exams
3. total dollars generated from contact lenses sold – either from a patient exam or replacement/spare contact lens order
4. contact lens dollars by materials and modalities, such as: disposable, frequent replacement, rigid gas permeable, bifocals, torics
5. total contact lens lab costs
6. number of frames sold and dollars generated
7. total materials cost, including frames, cases and lab bills
8. income from primary care (you may add specific lines for each, such as dry eye and glaucoma)
9. income from specialty care modalities (such as orthokeratology, sports vision, low vision and LASIK referrals). Again, you may wish to add unique lines.
Looking at this information on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis will provide you with an income/cost ratio and identify growth areas as well as areas you would like to grow further in. It is further indicative of how effective your recall system is and the number of new patients filling your exam slots in the appointment book.
■ Carl Zeiss Meditec announced the 2,600th GDx Scanning Laser Polarimeter installation. The GDx measures retinal nerve fiber layer for the detection and management of glaucoma.
■ Lagado has filed patents for a series of "super-permeable" contact lenses made of polyacetylenes, polymers that have oxygen permeability as high as 6000Dk. Legado will begin testing in 2007.
■ Check Yearly and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) partnered to distribute over 40,000 vision health kits to librarians at public and elementary school libraries.
■ Optos, manufacturer of retinal imaging products, announced a grant development program and strategic alliance with optometric consultancy Cleinman Performance Partners. Optos will host continuing education programs at Cleinman Performance Network meetings.
■ The World Council of Optometry has named Robert Chappell, O.B.E., M.Phil., D.Sc., F.C.Optcom, of the United Kingdom as its new president-elect.
The September OM "Reflections" column on page 112 listed Anthony DeAndrea as the director of development at VSP. His correct title and affiliation are the director of development at the Illinois College of Optometry.