Recent Posts
Connect with:
Wednesday / April 17.
HomemioptometryOptometry Reports Oct 2013

Optometry Reports Oct 2013

Comment from our Australian Optometry Associations


Andrew McKinnon

I’m most heartened to see that mivision has raised the issue of advertising and marketing in and for optometry in this issue (see News item on page 8).

This is a vexed question for the profession that goes back to the (in)famous Misty Millions campaign which was run a couple of decades ago. For those of you who weren’t around at the time (most of us), this was a public TV advertising campaign, which promoted the need for eye care through your optometrist. The title came from two directions – the official version was that the imagery used was ‘misty’, simulating a loss of vision and the ‘millions’ referred to the number of people potentially affected. The more cynical observer may have opined that the ‘misty’ referred to the indecisive outcome of the campaign and the ‘millions’ it cost.

Whatever the truth, it is a fact that mainstream media advertising, while inherently appealing, is massively expensive and notoriously difficult to gauge in its effectiveness, especially when it relates to ‘image’ advertising, rather than directly to product sales.

The CPA (accountants) campaign is often raised as a monument to effective ‘positional’ advertising – telling a story about why the public should choose the services of a Certified Practising Accountant. No doubt it was a great campaign, run by Clemengers. But it was BLOODY expensive – with the net spend reputed to be about AU$34 million thus far over about a decade.

Did it work? Not sure – did you change your accountant because of it? Did anyone you know? But it sure won a lot of awards – and every professional organisation like ours still talks about it and wishes they could do the same. But, you say – that’s advertising – we’re talking about marketing.

OK, try this angle – for my money, marketing works best at a local level, as personally as possible, and with people for whom the marketing offers a tangible, mutual benefit.

Let me use the example of GPs and pharmacists. The Association can send any amount of promotional material in a mass-marketing campaign to GPs and pharmacists. In my opinion, it will largely be wasted UNLESS the local optometrist gets out there and follows up with personal contact with their health care colleagues.

A GP who gets a well-produced brochure about ‘optometry’ in the mail might look at it for 10 seconds before binning it. But what if that same brochure came through the hands of the local optometrist, who took the time to make an appointment to meet the local GP and explain the services and skills they offer… and maybe offered an eye examination and to see the range of equipment the optometrist has available.

To me, that’s a great use of the Association’s resources – and that’s real, effective marketing which will, in all likelihood, result in real practice building.


Terri Smith

October is a big month for members and future members at OAA Vic, with member sessions in the Division office and our annual ‘Getting Registered’ session for final year students to step them through the maze of getting registered with Optometry Board of Australia, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The ‘Getting Registered’ session is also an important opportunity to help students understand the important role of the Association. While we always love these sessions, this year’s session is particularly important as it is the last year of the Bachelor of Optometry students at the University of Melbourne. We will be delighted to have the 56 final year students with us late this month.

We also have around 100 members already booked in to five of our CPR courses. Members are reminded they need a current CPR certificate every three years. Our CPR courses inevitably see members catching up with old friends and new. As well as the formal course – a registration requirement – we’ll all enjoy dinner and a drink!

Meanwhile we are busy finalising the education program for SRC 2014. Alongside our two international guests (Dr. Jeffry Gerson and Dr. Marc Bloomenstein) we have a great list of Australian speakers. If you haven’t liked our new SRC facebook page yet, do it now for regular updates on all things SRC. If you are an employer or potential employer, planning on coming to SRC, you might want to think about attending the Careers Expo, which will be incorporated into SRC 2014. This will be a great opportunity to meet students from both the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to employ a graduate it is a good opportunity to establish relationships with young optometrists that you might be employing in years to come.

Finally, don’t forget we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to call (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or email ([email protected]) if you have a question. We regularly answer a wide range of members’ questions in the office. We love hearing from members.


Cristy Ross

One of our key priorities, not only as a Division but now as an Association, is to continue to ‘market the profession of optometry to general practitioners and pharmacists… to develop awareness plans and referral tools, to encourage improved referral pathways and a better co-managed approach to patient health and well-being’.

You might recall last year the Qld/NT Division attended both the General Practitioners Conference and Exhibition (GPCE) in Brisbane and the RACGPs GP12 on the Gold Coast in a bid to further develop relationships between optometrists and general practitioners. Last month we furthered our efforts by attending GPCE 2013.

Additionally we have met with Minister for Health, Lawrence Springborg several times to discuss the Division’s proposal to reduce public hospital Eye Clinic waiting lists for people with diabetes who require eye health screenings. Based on the success of a trial program held in Ipswich and Toowoomba a few years ago, Qld/NT Division President David Foresto proposed all diabetic patients referred to public hospital eye clinics by general practitioners in Queensland should receive a letter outlining the options available to them that will enable them to be seen sooner in a local community optometry practice.

The trial program at Ipswich and Toowoomba hospitals, supported by visiting ophthalmologists, presented patients with a clear choice of remaining on the list for up to a year or being diverted immediately to a local optometrist. In the case of Ipswich, this initiative resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in the waiting list.

The Division’s goal is to continue working with the state government to better utilise optometry services in an attempt to reduce public hospital waiting lists and in doing so, provide enhanced care for all Queenslanders. Fortunately, Minister Springborg is supportive of our efforts to date and as a result sent a letter confirming his support to all 17 Health and Hospital Service CEOs across the state, encouraging their consideration and implementation of our proposal.

As a result of support from Minister Springborg and public hospital Eye Clinic ophthalmologists across a number of our regional areas, we are starting to see change. Trials in Cairns, the Gold Coast and again in Toowoomba are resulting in improved referral pathways. We are also working with the University of Queensland to place some of their medical students in optometry practices with the aim of improving their understanding of an optometrist’s scope of practice.

A key element in seeing these changes succeed and continue to expand across the state is the relationships we develop with fellow health practitioners. These relationships are crucial to ensure the growth of improved referral pathways.

Members already promoting their scope of practice and taking the time to simply have a conversation with their local GP, Pharmacist, Diabetic Educator and Ophthalmologist will agree, the benefit of seeing more patients get the care they need, being diagnosed and treated sooner, far outweighs the cost of a cup of coffee.


Tony Martella

In late September OAA WA division concluded the final module of our fourth post-graduate ocular therapeutics course, which is run in conjunction with the University of New South Wales. Demand for this course continues to be strong, reflecting the interest and commitment among optometrists in WA to further their knowledge and to expand and enhance care provided to their patients.

During our fourth course we were once again fortunate to have among our lecturers, two leading ocular specialists from the United States. In August Dr. Murray Fingeret from New York once again made the journey down under. Dr. Fingeret is a Clinical Professor at the State University of New York College of Optometry. He is executive vice-president of the Optometric Glaucoma Society and chair of the Glaucoma Diplomate committee of the American Academy of Optometry.

Additionally, Dr. Leo P. Semes delivered the Clinical Management module of the course. Dr. Semes is Professor of Optometry and the Director of Continuing Education at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). An accomplished educator, he has received numerous teaching awards, including the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Impressively, he has been listed in 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century and in Who’s Who in the 21st Century.

In addition to Dr. Semes, Australian optometrist Associate Professor Mark Roth also took part in the course.

Mark is a private practitioner in Melbourne and he is also a Principal Fellow, in the Department of Optometry & Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne as well as teaching at UNSW.

Mark is not only leading clinician in the field but a very popular and well respected educator within the profession given his unique optometry and pharmacology training.

Graduate Interest in WA Continues
Despite talk of a slowdown in the mining industry, interest in working in WA continues to build among graduates around the country. This year OAA WA has already assisted ten graduates to explore the local profession and build networks with optometrists in Perth.

Spring Cup Golf Day: 25 October
The numbers are building for our annual Spring Cup Golf Day, which will take place at the Vines Resort in Ellenbrook. Get your team together for what promises to be a great day, followed by a presentation dinner and plenty of good-hearted talk about the glory that could have been. To register contact OAA WA office on (AUS) 08 9321 2300 or email [email protected]


Libby Boschen

SA Blue Sky Congress… just a barrel of pointless laughs… or driven by research?

SA Blue Sky Congress has (disappointingly) just lost a valued sponsor because it is ‘too much fun’ and fails to meet the requirements of the company in question’s compliance committee. It seems our themed and entertaining events could be perceived by the general public as frivolous and inappropriate.

Frustrated to lose a sponsor because I refuse to change what is quintessentially Blue Sky? You bet, but it does bring me to a more serious issue and that is that I have been remiss in not explaining to both delegates and sponsors that Blue Sky is fun because it is proven to enhance learning, not just because we have a fetish for dressing up.

Research suggests the introduction of fun not only makes learning more effective, but according to many reports is actually required for authentic learning and the ability to retain the facts and information long-term. A quick browse of why learning should be fun for adults, courtesy of Google, generates pages of evidence and opinions to support what I know from experience to be true.

How does it work? Simple chemistry: our brains and bodies respond positively to laughter by releasing a stream of endorphin, adrenaline and dopamine into our blood stream and by breathing more and raising the oxygen levels in our brains. Combine all of this and we are alert and primed for new information and clinical discoveries. Take time to peruse the research and you will see that learning increases in direct proportion to the degree that the learners are relaxed, comfortable and having fun.

Clinical research directly supports Blue Sky’s speaker and topic choice. Learning research directly supports how we support our delegates, the atmosphere we create and fun we inject. This latter research has contributed to key Blue Sky policy decisions over time, including the introduction of interactive Q & A keypads; the first ever highest quality on-site crèche (to give parents peace of mind); the provision of the very best refreshments and ad lib brain food like nuts and fruit (for maximum brain function and steady blood sugar release); the scheduling of a lighter topic and inspirational speaker in the ‘grave yard’ slot after lunch; and our most recent move this year, to a more comfortable venue.

This year I am proud to bring you Dr. Paul Chous. This is his first time Down Under and we have invited him because he is pulling capacity crowds in the US and Canada where our suited colleagues will happily sit on the floor and line the walls of the auditoriums to hear him speak. Not only that, our talent scouts have witnessed delegate responses first hand and our committee have all listened to audio-tapes of his presentations. This guy is engaging, practical and valuable. He is an award-winning diabetic educator and optometrist. Like everything at Blue Sky – he is tried and tested.

So hunt out your Thespian velvet and register for Blue Sky. I dare you to be different!

SA Blue Sky Congress – the only thing we take seriously is your education.

For full details and to register www.optometrists.asn.au/southaustralia