Comment from Australia’s Optometry Associations.
We’re inviting OAA Vic members to make use of a new service for members: ask us a question – any question – about new technologies in optometry, and have it answered by a specially chosen reference panel of fellow optometrists with a wide range of practical knowledge and experience. Between them, we reckon there is not much about technology and optometry they do not know, have not thought about, or can’t assist or advise on. It’s a free service for members, and all questions are welcomed.
We believe the key to making sure optometry remains an attractive and rewarding health profession and career choice lies in seizing new opportunities to provide care for a wide range of challenging, interesting patients. Part of that opportunity lies in technology. In fact, the technologies now available for optometrists in practice are wide-ranging. Retinal cameras and fields analysers are now standard stuff.
…sometimes, a dollar spent today can save you two dollars tomorrow
There has been great enthusiasm for the diagnostic, management and educational value of OCT, with many practices now owning or considering buying one. It’s likely to become indispensable for therapeutic management of patients with conditions including glaucoma. For contact lens specialists, corneal topography is becoming similarly significant. Specialist equipment is increasingly underpinning the work of optometrists in areas like visual function, low vision or driving vision.
On a business and practice management front, technologies are also leaping ahead. Practice management software gets increasingly savvy with each new iteration. Many of our members now use social media to promote their practice or communicate with and update patients.
Last year, OAA Vic held a special forum for members with a particular interest in new technologies in optometry practice. The idea was to give us some insight into how we might support members to work through and understand the implications for new technologies in practice. What should I buy? Which one? How do I choose or prioritise to get the best for my patients? How will I fund it? What can I charge?
At SRC this year, we covered OCT in a special session. We also explored the role of social media, in particular, Facebook.
One outcome of our interest in this area has been to establish the Online Technology Forum. To make use of the service, email a question, and meet our expert reference panel, go to www.optometrists.asn.au/victoria.
As I write this, the rain is tumbling
down in Sydney and we have not long finished our second very successful Super Sunday conference.
However, like most people running such events, we noticed that our numbers were down from last year and that brought my thoughts back to the recent mivision story (Jun 13 Issue 80 Conference Fatique: Too Much of a Good Thing?) about the absolute plethora of conferences, seminars, dinners and other CPD events which are available to optometrists around Australia.
Now I fully understand (and in fact I argued this very point in the article) that we live in a free-market society and if someone wants to put on a CPD offering then there is nothing to stop them doing so. However there is a limit to (a) demand and (b) people’s available time which, when spread across the literally thousands of hours on offer, can impact on the viability of events as we go forward.
The other very important factor is the ability (willingness) of our industry partners to continually sponsor more and more events when, in reality, they are facing an ever-shrinking buyers’ market as the proportion of corporate v independent practitioners shifts. As a conference organiser, this is something that we are very mindful of – after all, if we can’t make industry’s participation a viable business proposition, then we’ll most likely lose them altogether – and we definitely don’t want that.
Is there a moral to this little story? Only that, as we all know, our world has changed a great deal in recent years and this is impacting on all of us in ways we might not think about – but we’ll have to, if we want to continue to be able to enjoy the variety and diversity of educational offerings that we’ve all come to enjoy.
See you at Super Sunday 2014!
With so much CPD on offer, optometrists are spoiled for choice when it comes to meeting their registration requirements. As we all know, CPD can be obtained across a range of mediums, both locally and internationally, so how can the Optometrists Association of Australia be sure they’re offering you the CPD you want in such a competitive environment?
No doubt many providers are asking themselves the same question. The beauty of all of this is you, as the optometrist, have the most to gain from a market of providers all scrambling to offer you the best, most rewarding and most appealing CPD to meet your needs.
But how do you make sure you have your CPD needs met? It all boils down to the contribution of members, whether it be through the completion of exit surveys, feedback surveys or the like, by approaching the information desks or your Board Directors at conferences or by getting involved in OAA Board Committees, the driving force results from the efforts of members.
Here in the Qld/NT Division we have an Education Committee made up of a number of your peers, chaired by a member of your Board who get together to review your exit survey comments when drafting ideas for the next conference. Both delegates and exhibitors are encouraged to complete exit surveys to assist in this process. Your comments are then discussed as potential opportunities and/or improvements for the next conference and form an invaluable part of the planning process.
All OAA divisions implement similar practices when planning their next conference or event, with each of the committees (made up of your peers), in each of the divisions tasked with considering all comments in an effort to better meet your needs at the next conference. Given this, the best possible way you can be sure the OAA meets your CPD needs, is to get involved by completing exit surveys and quite simply, asking for what you want.
And on that note, here’s a CPD offer sure to entice…
North Queensland Vision
North Queensland Vision (NQV) not only offers delegates an opportunity to migrate north, but also promises to deliver an exceptional CPD program. Register now to join us in gorgeous tropical Cairns for NQV from 4–5 October at the Pullman Cairns International.
Here’s a snippet to entice the senses…
Alcon Vision Care will kick things off over breakfast on the Friday morning, followed by the official opening with OAA QLD/NT President David Foresto. With BOC Instruments again hosting a tropical cocktail party on the Friday evening as a well-earned reward for all delegates after a day of thought provoking, eye opening and somewhat indulgent educational sessions, how can anyone say no?
And if that’s not enough, CooperVision will host your Saturday morning breakfast followed by another jam-packed day of CPD, wrapping up in the evening at Palm Cove’s Angsana Resort and Spa for a mouth-watering gala dinner on the beach.
It doesn’t get any better than North Queensland Vision – it’s the perfect combination of personal and professional reward. For more information or to lock in your tropical escape, contact us on (AUS) 07 3839 4411 or visit www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland
Thank you to a True Local Hero
After 17 years, optometrist Margie O’Neill has left her role as the co-ordinator of the north-west Western Australian Eye Program.
Margie has been key to the establishment of the outreach volunteer eye care program, which today services the eye health needs of 40 communities across an area spanning 1,000,00km2. Although recent years have been more comfortable, in her early days as an outreach optometrist, her trips through the Kimberly and the Pilbara often necessitated living from her car or roughing it. In this time she has seen over 12,000 patients with over 90 per cent being Indigenous.
While working with remote Australian communities, Margie has encountered the usual wide range of ocular conditions, including cataract, diabetic retinopathy, trachoma, glaucoma and macular degeneration that you would expect, as well as encountering a spate of ocular emergencies.
Today, thanks to Margie’s tireless work, the North West WA Eye Program is comprehensive and without doubt one of Australia’s most efficient eye health service working with remote communities. The Program is closely integrated with the visiting ophthalmology service, which is primarily run through Lions Outback Vision, here in Perth.
The Outreach Eye Program’s 15 volunteer optometrists work to triage patients in the communities and are fundamental in the program’s success. They are able to refer these patients on for tertiary treatments at regional centres where ophthalmology services are available. This innovative process, which is now supported by the tele-health portal www.outbackvision.com.au, has freed up surgical waiting lists and ensured people get prompt access to eye care.
Having seen the outreach program in operation first hand, I personally would like to thank Margie for her incredible engagement and commitment to the communities she has serviced. As a result of her dedication, she has left a wonderful legacy that people can continue with. Importantly, she has left that legacy in good hands for the program to not only continue but grow well into the future.
It’s worth remembering that in recognition of her work, Margie was awarded the local hero title for Western Australia in the 2006 Australian of the Year awards. In 2010, she was a State Finalist for the Australian of the Year.
As she heads off to Europe for a well-deserved break, I’d like to thank Margie on behalf of the eye care community for her tireless work and wish her the very best of luck in her ‘retirement’. Enjoy the time away!
WAVE 2013 Is On: 10-11 August
I’m looking forward to seeing optometrists and eye care professionals from around the country and the local region at WAVE this month (August).
As always, we’ve got a fantastic program organised with an impressive mix of presenters including both experienced and new speakers to the eye care education circuit. Look forward to hearing from the likes of Dr. Lisa Keay, Dr. Lauren Ayton, Jessica Chi, Jared Slater and Prof. Alex Gentle, among others.
You can still register to attend WAVE – just go to www.optometrists.asn.au and follow the links for WA.
OAA SA has been working closely with Medicare Locals to educate general practitioners; their assistants and pharmacy staff about the role contemporary optometrists can play in patient care. We’ve been doing this through newsletters, our website and workshops that enable the Medicare Local team to meet with their local practising optometrists. The results of our campaign are exciting – GPs are generally overloaded with patients and when they meet our optometrists and get to know about the services our profession can provide in the contemporary environment, they are very confident about referring patients for eye care.
It’s also exciting news for our members, particularly those who have therapeutic qualifications – which make up about 40 per cent of optometrists in South Australia – as this presents a valuable opportunity to ease into their expanded scope of practice.
Medicare Locals has the potential to offer enormous benefits to patients because it aims to ensure local communities make health care decisions in line with local needs, and encourages GPs to work together with allied health professionals accordingly. The program, which was introduced by federal government some two years ago is at varying stages of maturity across the country. It’s pleasing to be proactively progressing it here in South Australia.
SA Testing National Finance System
OAA SA members are currently trialling a new finance system that will be introduced for the benefit of all members across the country in the coming months. The finance system enables members to book into, and pay for, some or all Association CPD events using a single system. It immediately uploads your member details eliminating the need to manually input data and maintains a record of all CPD events attended.
In the very near future, this system will be expanded to maintain a record of your CPD points in greater detail. All accredited CPD points attained will automatically be entered on the system and categorised as to whether they are therapeutic or face to face etc. Members will be able to enter in any other CPD points gained by attending non-accredited programs – for instance if you have attended a conference overseas. Additionally, it will identify whether you are up to date on other administrative requirements such as CPR accreditation.
The system will tally your points and provide you with a clear picture of any further points required to maintain registration. All of this will hang off the Association’s new national website, which will also have links to each State’s website. It’s a fantastic initiative for all our members across the country.