Practice Pulse

Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Are You Ready for HIPAA?

Eyecare practitioners' readiness for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is mixed, according to a CIBA Vision email survey.

The survey, conducted in October, reports that 17% of practitioners have spent no time on HIPAA related issues in the past year and 48% have spent "minimal" time. Another 30% said that their practices spent "a fair amount of time" and 5% said they've devoted "a large amount of time" to HIPAA issues. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said that their practices have a designated HIPAA compliance officer; 45% have not.

Survey responses show a wide variation in how much the practitioners expect to spend over the next year on HIPAA compliance. Only 13% expect to pay more than $5,000, 33% expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000, 43% expect to pay less than $1,000 and 11% of practitioners said they expect to pay nothing.

The survey showed a greater consensus on HIPAA's impact to practices: 47% said the biggest impact will be on the privacy of patient records, while 26% said security of patient records would be the key point. Twelve percent said that changes to managed vision care plans would impact them the most. The remaining 15% wrote in answers, which ranged from no impact to increased paperwork and anger and confusion among patients.

Seventy-three percent of the respondents applied for an extension for compliance with the electronic health care transactions and code set standards required by HIPAA. Without the extension, the deadline for compliance was Oct. 16, 2002.

Eyecare practitioners have until April 14, 2003 to come into compliance with the patient privacy provisions of HIPAA. These require healthcare providers to obtain a patient's signed consent or authorization to use the patient information for marketing purposes.

HHS and AOA Join Together to Provide a Clearer Future for America

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has gotten bad press in the past few months because of his alleged support of declassifying plano cosmetic contact lenses. In a positive turn, however, Secretary Thompson recently announced a new public-private partnership with the American Optometric Association (AOA) to improve visual health and implement the visual objectives contained in Healthy People 2010, the department's guidelines for health priorities in the first decade of the 21st century.

Said Mr. Thompson, "This partnership allows us to join forces with a nationwide network of optometric professionals, optometric students, schools of optometry and patients to improve Americans' vision."

SOLA Launches New Lens Coating

Have you heard about the new lens coating offered by SOLA International, Inc.? The company recently launched Teflon EasyCare Lens Coating in the U.S. market.

Back in March, SOLA and DuPont announced an exclusive, multi-year, worldwide agreement where SOLA would market the new coating for ophthalmic lenses using DuPont's Teflon brand.

Says Jeremy Bishop, CEO of SOLA, "[Teflon EasyCare Lens Coating] combines clarity with toughness and easy cleaning properties found in no other lens coating." Also, according to the company, Teflon EasyCare Lens Coating outperforms leading AR coatings in clarity, has the lowest visible reflection of all lens coatings currently on the market and is equivalent to premium hard coatings in scratch resistance.

In October, the coating was made available on selected SOLA and American Optical single vision and progressive lenses in hard resin and polycarbonate. SOLA will add other materials to this list as soon as qualification is completed.

AR Council Announces Improvements

The AR Council reported that its 2001 sales results indicate that 23% of all lenses sold in the United States were anti-reflective lenses, representing a 4% increase over 2000 sales results. The council's annual sales survey includes both AR Council members as well as non members.

The AR Council's Executive Director, Lee Anderson, comments, "Seventy-seven percent of lenses still remain uncoated; the opportunity for growth is unlimited as anti-reflective lens advantages benefit all lens materials including glass, plastic, polycarbonate, mid-index and high-index."

The AR Council also unveiled its newly designed and updated patient brochure, which features its call-to-action tag line, "See Better, Look Better" to entice patients to "Let people see the real you with anti-reflective coating."

The updated patient brochure features sections on improved night vision, reduced eye strain when using computers, increased light transmission, cosmetic advantages and care and cleaning. Brochures come bundled in packets of 50 and come with a clear, acrylic counter display. Order yours by calling (877) 254-4477.

In other news, the AR Council board of directors unanimously agreed to refer to its product as anti-reflective lenses because the description "AR coating" may have negative connotations with consumers.

Now you can register online for the inaugural meeting of the Contact Lens and Eyecare Symposium (CLES). This new annual meeting will focus on contact lenses, lens care solutions and eye care and is slated for January 22 to 26, 2003 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.

CLES will offer a full exhibit hall and more than 130 hours of accredited continuing education. Visit the Web site for full course descriptions.

CLES is sponsored by the Contact Lens Institute and it incorporates the annual meetings of the Contact Lens Society of America and the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists.

VSP to Offer Preferred Pricing

VSP announced that as of January 1, the company would offer patients preferred pricing on annual supplies of select soft contact lenses from CIBA Vision and Ocular Sciences, as well as direct delivery. The program also offers an enhanced frame benefit that provides patients with a retail coverage amount backed by the current wholesale value of their benefit and a 20% discount on any difference between the retail price of the frame and the retail allowance.

For optometrists, VSP's program offers a "$5 Partnership Plus" payment for those who dispense annual supplies of the contacts covered by the benefit and who submit the patients' claims through Eyefinity. "We know that many doctors already provide value pricing and convenient services," VSP's Chairwoman of the Board of Directors Catherine Amos, O.D., F.A.A.O., said. "Yet, unlike many retailers, no one is promoting that fact nationally. As the only organization that works exclusively with private-practice eyecare doctors, VSP is in an excellent position to show patients that we remain their best overall care choice, and programs like these help the company achieve that goal." For more information, go to

Presents Award

Lighthouse International recently presented Ian L. Bailey, professor of optometry and vision science at the School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, with its 22nd 2002 Lighthouse International Pisart Vision Award.

The $25,000 award and accompanying sculpture are given annually in recognition of a noteworthy contribution to the prevention, cure or treatment of severe vision impairment or blindness.

Rehnquist Orders a Stop to Incentives

According to the October 1 edition of The New York Times, Janet Rehnquist, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, released new standards regarding financial incentives in the pharmaceutical industry. Although no law backs these standards, drug makers that go against them are more likely to be investigated and prosecuted for violations of federal fraud and kickback statutes.

According to The New York Times article, the government says it is concerned about the industry's marketing practices because they could improperly drive up costs for Medicare and Medicaid.

Ms. Rehnquist suggests that every drug company appoint a compliance officer and reward employees who report misconduct.

Regarding incentives, in April, OM reported that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced a voluntary marketing code outlining appropriate conduct for sales reps dealing with healthcare professionals.

FDA Seizes Unapproved Lenses

The FDA recently began stopping imports of gray-market plano cosmetic contact lenses at U.S. borders. Gray-market lenses are those sold outside authorized distribution channels. The FDA said it will seize unapproved lenses sold in convenience stores, flea markets and other spots. The FDA is also warning consumers about the risks of permanent eye injury and blindness presented by noncorrective, decorative contact lenses distributed without a prescription and without proper fitting by an eyecare professional.



CIBA CEO to retire. Thirteen-year CIBA Vision CEO Dr. Glen Bradley recently announced his retirement. Joseph Mallof became COO last month and succeeds Dr. Bradley effective this month.

Pearle president for hire. George Bernstein, president of Cole National's Pearle Vision operation, resigned last month. Larry Pollock, Cole National's president/COO, will take over on an interim basis until the company finds a replacement.

Standard Optical loses Richard Schubach. Richard Schubach, of Standard Optical, died on September 24th at the age of 80. He became a partner in the chain, which his grandfather founded in 1911, with his father and brother after World War II.

Schubach served as president/ CEO of Standard Optical from 1980 to 1990. He is survived by his wife and six children.

Heidelberg mourns loss. Heidelberg Engineering sadly announced the loss of Joe Alvarez, product specialist for the Heidelberg Retina Angiograph (HRA). Mr. Alvarez died of a heart attack last month. He began his sales career with Heidelberg 8 years ago.

Allergan board member resigns. Effective September 24th, Anthony H. Wild, Ph.D. resigned as a director of Allergan, Inc.'s Board. Dr. Wild resigned to avoid any potential conflict of interest in the future between Allergan and MedPointe, Inc., of which he is chairman and CEO. No conflict of interest currently exists between the two companies.


LVC builds new board. At its annual meeting, the Low Vision Council elected a new Board of Directors and slate of officers. The following new officers will serve a two-year term: Ron DeLong, president; Marv Walters, vice president; Ed Bettinardi, treasurer; Paul Shilbley, secretary; and Bill Mattingly, past president.

CIBA lens now available in new locations. CIBA Vision expanded the availability of its Focus Dailies Toric to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France and Italy.

Japan to sell Cooper CLs. Japan has cleared Rohto, the Cooper Companies, Inc.'s Japanese marketing partner, to market CooperVision's disposable spherical, aspheric and toric contact lenses in that country.

Alliance supports independent practitioners. Vision West, Inc. (VWI) Buying Group and Essilor Laboratories of America (ELOA) have been working together to support the independent ophthalmic profession. The alliance will provide a price list for all participating Essilor laboratories containing lower pricing and discounts for VWI members.

Exclusive promotions will be developed for VWI members and exclusive programs and informative trainings will be coordinated to contribute to increasing staff motivation and patient satisfaction for independent practices.

CIBA and Cooper call truce. CIBA Vision has agreed to license two of subsidiary Wesley Jessen's color lens patents to CooperVision in return for a royalty and a cross-license of some of Cooper's intellectual property rights. Cooper will continue selling its existing cosmetic lens products.


SCO dedicates new center. In September, the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) officially dedicated The Eye Center on its campus in the city's medical district.

The 51,000-square-foot center opened to patients on September 3. It's equipped with 69 exam rooms, a medical lab and more.