Article Date: 10/1/2012

Practice pulse TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE
Practice pulse TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE

BILL ADDRESSES UNFAIRNESS IN MEDICAID SYSTEM
Optometry Legislation Needs Sponsors

■ H.R. 1219, or the Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act, needs between 175-to-200 co-sponsors to have a shot at being heard on the House of Representatives floor before the 112 U.S. Congress recesses on Jan. 3, 2013. As we go to press, it has 105.

“Although optometrists provide the bulk of eye healthcare services for Medicaid beneficiaries, participating O.D.s have too often faced unfair denials and limits on care imposed by states and third-party payers… “ explains Jon Hymes, the American Optometric Association's (AOA) Washington office director.

The bipartisan bill, introduced March 29, 2011 by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) seeks to amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to fully recognize O.D.s to provide “medical and other health services to the extent those services may be performed under state law.” The bill wouldn't alter scope of practice nor override state authority to determine scope of practice. Further, H.R.1219 wouldn't allow for any additional spending or covered benefit.

“Unless H.R. 1219 is made a priority during the closing weeks of the 112th Congress, which is due to meet next following the Nov. 6 elections, the AOA will need to work with supporters [of the bill] on Capitol Hill to re-introduce it next January and build support anew,” Mr. Hymes explains.

To give the bill a chance of being heard before Congress ends, call your Congressman (visit www.house.gov/representatives/), and tell him or her that you are a constituent who wants the bill signed into law because it will improve access to eyecare and save money in the Medicaid system by galvanizing healthcare competition and decreasing Medicaid costs from disabling vision loss.

Optometrist Tommy Lucas of Kileen, Texas, initiated a grass roots effort on ODwire.org on Sept. 7 to get H.R. 1219 heard.

For additional information, contact Mr. Hymes at (800) 365-2219, or e-mail him at jfhymes@aoa.org.

OPTOMETRISTS ARE IN A GOOD POSITION
O.D. Named a Best Paying Future Job

■ Optometrist has been named as the 10th best-paying future job (out of 10) by 24/7 Wall St, a website that provides “Insightful analysis and commentary for U.S. & global equity investors.”

“If economists say this is the case, I have no reason to dispute their analysis. However, I point out it's a complex calculation,” explains Andrew S. Gurwood, O.D., professor of clinical sciences at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University and a private practitioner. “In my opinion, the greatest profitability in the profession is for those who graduated between 1970 and 1995. These O.D.s, myself included, have a low-debt-to-high-earnings ratio and were practicing during the best economic times the country ever saw. As a result, most, if not all the debt that was accumulated from schooling has been paid down, enabling the capture of more wealth for savings or discretionary use.” He says newer graduates, however, have a tougher nut to crack because the costs of under-graduate studies and optometry school have increased. These expenses strain the balance between incurred debt and earnings potential. Other factors complicating the analysis, says Dr. Gurwood: the rules regarding interest accumulation on student loans and repaying student loans, increased cost of living and the continuous battle with Third party payers to maintain (let alone increase) reimbursements for services and materials.

Manufacturer Education
LITERATURE AIMS TO IMPROVE SAFE CONTACT LENS WEAR
Vistakon Creates Contact Lens Patient Education Literature

To assist you in educating your contact lens (CL) patients on the importance of safe wear, Vistakon has developed Healthy Vision & Contact Lenses.

Available in PDF and print, it provides a brief overview of CLs and their various modalities, the dos and don'ts of handling and wear, solution-use directions and case care, additional resources and a section to fill out with patients to reinforce replacement schedules, correct cleaning and disinfecting methods and changing one's lens case.

You can customize the PDF copies to contain your contact information. To download the PDF, visit www.ACUVUEProfessional.com/HVCL. The print version is comprised of 50 tear-sheets on a pad. To request a pad, contact healthyvision@its.jnj.com.

He adds that the continued growth of optometry's retail side and the expanded full scope options (medical optometry, low vision, sports vision, pediatrics, contact lenses, etc.) permits optimism.

“Generally, as I speak to former students, they are happy and earning a good living with excellent opportunities in a very personally rewarding profession,” Dr. Gurwood says.

The 24/7 website used the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) National Employment Matrix, which forecasts job growth between 2010 and 2020, to identify the professions that are going to increase the most as a percentage of 2010 employment figures by 2020. Of those, 24/7 Wall St narrowed the jobs list that also had a median annual income of $60,000 at minimum in 2010, 75% greater than the $34,450 national median average and at least 5,000 positions. The web site also identified the states that have the highest concentration of such occupations as of May 2011 by employing the BLS’ Occupational Employment numbers.

The percentage increase for O.D.s is 33.1%, new jobs between 2010 and 2020 are 11,300, median income is $94,990, and the states with the most jobs per capita are Hawaii, Montana and North Dakota.

The other professions listed:

9. Occupational therapists
8. Veterinarians
7. Medical scientists (except epidemiologists)
6. Audiologists
5. Dental hygienists
4. Physical therapists
3. Market research analysts and marketing specialists
2. Diagnostic sonographers
1. Biomedical engineers.

Visit http://247wallst.com/2012/08/30/the-best-paying-jobs-of-the-future-2/for the full article.

FDA News
■ Aflibercept injection (Eylea, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) has received FDA approval for the treatment of macular edema following central retinal vein occlusion. The recommended dose of the injection is 2mg every four weeks. The drug is currently approved for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

■ The Catalys Precision Laser System, from OptiMedica Corp., has received FDA 510(k) market clearance for creating single-plane and multi-plane arc cuts/incisions in the cornea during cataract surgery.

■ Loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic gel 0.5% (Lotemax, Bausch + Lomb) has received FDA approval for the treatment of post-operative inflammation and pain following ocular surgery.

O.D. HOPES TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION AND SUSTAIN SMALL BUSINESSES
Optometrist Runs for Mayor

■ Sandra Bury, O.D., and owner of Complete Vision Care in Oak Lawn, Ill., recently stepped outside the world of optometry announcing her candidacy for mayor of Oak Lawn.

“I saw a lot of room for improvement and I talked to people and they were excited about the idea,” she says.

In addition to her current presidency of the Illinois Optometric Association and association with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, Dr. Bury is a director for the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce, a longtime member and former president of the Oak Lawn Rotary Club, and she's been involved in numerous charitable efforts, including organizing the construction of a 9/11 memorial sculpture.

She says the idea to run for mayor came after she started attending village board meetings about a year ago and felt she could make a significant impact.

“It seems there's no communication presently and everyone's hanging on by a thread,” Dr. Bury says. “There used to be a day when the village administration was more involved in the business community and actually knew the business owners, and there's a huge disconnect now. There are things we could be doing to keep these small mom and pop businesses vibrant.”

She says she realizes that if she wins in the April 9 municipal election, her mayoral duties will cut into her time at her practice, though she says she doesn't think this will negatively impact her practice.

“I have a wonderful team of young associates that is so capable and dedicated and motivated,” Dr. Bury says. “Without them, it would be almost impossible.”


YOUR “PLACE-TO-WORK” REPUTATION DETERMINES YOUR POOL OF JOB CANDIDATES
What's Your Employment Brand?

Bob Levoy, O.D., Roslyn, N.Y.
■ Your employment brand refers to the reputation your practice has among current and former staff members as a place to work. Every practice has an employment brand — for better or worse — because your staff does talk about what it's like to work for your practice. You can take steps to strengthen your brand image as an employer.

Determining factors
Among the factors that determine a practice's employment brand: your management style; work/life balance options; opportunities for personal growth; salary and benefits package and the practice's reputation as an interesting and enjoyable place to work.

Action steps
There are two main requirements for initiating an effective employer-branding effort:
1. You must understand the job-related factors most important to your current and future staff members. A simple, anonymous survey is one method for doing so. Consider including in the questionnaire: “Would you recommend this practice to your friends as a place to work? Why or why not?” The answers to such a question help identify the attributes considered most important by your staff.
2. You must do your best to meet these job-related desires. If your current team members rank “opportunities for personal growth” as a top-five desire, for example, strive to provide more opportunities for staff continuing education, and begin to delegate more to qualified staff members. Alternatively, you might revise the profile of people you hire. The same options would hold true for other attributes deemed important. The objective is to have a good fit between job-related desires and practice attributes.

Brand benefits
With the job market (hopefully) on its way to recovery, it no longer makes sense to say, “People should be happy to have a job right now.” The best people are the first to leave after a recession, so the time is now to focus on your employment brand.
By cultivating a strong employment brand, you're more likely to attract a number of high-caliber job applicants. In addition, there'll be less staff turnover; greater staff productivity; enhanced customer service and a greater likelihood that your staff members will be “ambassadors” for your practice. OM

RESEARCH Notes
• The September 2012 issue of Optometry and Vision Science: The Journal of the American Academy of Optometry, includes 21 papers on new advances and future challenges in low vision research.

• A total of 5.5mM of the anti-infective NVC-422, from NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc., oxidized and inactivated Shiga toxin 2, a toxin secreted by Escherichia coli, revealing that long-lived oxidants, such as NCT, may act as powerful tools on innate immunity against soluble toxins secreted by common bacteria, says a poster presented at the 52nd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents.

• Cataract surgery places patients at almost twice the risk of developing late-stage age-related macular degeneration vs. those who don't undergo the procedure, says August's Ophthalmology. Further, the likelihood for late AMD may be significantly higher five or more years post-surgery than in the first five years postsurgery.

• The 24-hour use of a contact lens sensor for monitoring IOP demonstrates good safety, tolerability and fair-to-good reproducibility, suggesting its data may be useful in glaucoma management, says August's Archives of Ophthalmology.

• Both LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) appear to cause an increase in dry eye symptoms and severity, vision fluctuations and foreign body sensation months one, three and six post-surgery, says August's Ophthalmology. Also, PRK was shown to induce more vision fluctuations vs. LASIK one-month post-surgery.

CONTINUOUS INCREASE IN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY USE PROMPTS ACTION
AOA Issues Digital Product Eye-Protection Guidelines

■ Roughly 60% of parents estimate their children spend up to four hours per day looking at a digital device screen, and 79% of parents are concerned it may be damaging their children's eyes, says the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2012 American Eye-Q consumer survey.

“You can rewind the clock not to far, and there was a time when kids weren't using computers in school at all,” says Geoffrey Goodfellow, O.D., AOA spokesperson and attending optometrist in the Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Service at the Illinois College of Optometry. “… Now, there are computers in every classroom and iPads and tablets all around them.”

As a result of these concerns, the AOA has released these guidelines:

Employ the “20-20-20 rule. When using these devices, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away.

Keep computer screens 15°-to-20° below eye level and 20 inches to 28 inches away from the eyes.

Reduce glare on the computer screen.

Decrease the room lighting to match the computer screen.

Make an effort to blink frequently.

You, as the O.D., can do your part by testing for computer vision syndrome during eye exams. While many O.D.s are already doing so, you should be checking all of the systems of the eye, regardless of the patient's perceived condition.



Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: October 2012, page(s): 10 - 16