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HomemiophthalmologyPatient Wellbeing and Collaboration our Priority

Patient Wellbeing and Collaboration our Priority

RANZCO is committed to working with NGOs, government agencies and optometrists to provide the very best care possible for the patient.

I am pleased that RANZCO is making a return to a regular column in mivision. As the peak body representing ophthalmologists it is important that our views on a wide range of topics are known by the whole eyecare industry. It is only through collaboration and communication that we will all achieve the aim of high quality outcomes for patients.

As we all now know, in March 2013 the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) decided to allow the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma without any oversight from an ophthalmologist. Many in the eye care community were shocked.

Ophthalmologists greatly appreciate the valuable role of optometrists in screening for eye care diseases. As medical specialists it’s their strong belief that an integrated eye care team gives the patient the best possible outcome.

At the end of the day we cannot rely solely on technology…

However, the recent OBA decision to change medical practice could result in a bureaucratic organisation, established to administer the registration of optometrists, inadvertently destroying years of good working relationships through the misguided thinking that by making this change, patients will be better off.

Given there is no evidence this will be the case, we believe it’s effectively a massive clinical trial without ethics approval, patient consent or clear targets for success or failure.

We understand there is a groundswell of desire among optometrists for common sense to prevail, and we remain ever willing to assist a prompt and effective resolution of this issue. The only winners now are the insurance companies, which will surely need to significantly increase premiums for optometrists who independently diagnose and treat glaucoma.

I welcome your feedback and hope that optometry and ophthalmology can continue to collaborate in patients’ best interest.

Strategic Plan 2013–16

On the topic of working together, RANZCO has recently developed a new Strategic Plan for 2013–16. One area of renewed focus will be servicing the eyecare needs of rural and remote areas. I think it’s widely recognised that problems seen in these areas are not specific to ophthalmology, however we think we can work smarter to achieve a better outcome. Over the course of the next 12 months we plan to work with various NGOs, government agencies and optometrists, to provide the best care possible with what we all know are limited financial and people resources.

I recently attended an excellent workshop run by Prof. Hugh Taylor, which looked at e-health initiatives and future needs for Aboriginal people, in particular. While this is clearly a huge challenge, I was encouraged by the breadth of knowledge and experience from those attending, and their desire to make this work. At the end of the day we cannot rely solely on technology as it will still require people on the ground to coordinate activity and feed information back to ophthalmologists, so that they can make the best use of their expertise and time. I will be interested to see how this develops. RANZCO will be working with groups such as Vision 2020 Australia and the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service (IRIS) to provide our own expertise as required.

Dr. David Andrews is CEO of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO). Dr. Andrews brings extensive experience to his role, having previously served as an executive in a number of medical related companies and most recently as Chief Operating Officer of the Woolcock Institute of Medical research. Dr. Andrews holds a PhD in agricultural chemistry and an MBA.

RANZCO is the body responsible for creating and maintaining standards in ophthalmologist training and practice. It organises the examination system and sets the curriculum. It maintains a CPD system, organises a scientific congress, produces clinical guidelines and a scientific journal.

View www.ranzco.edu for more information.

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