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HomemioptometryOptometry Reports May 2014: Optoms Responding to Changing Needs

Optometry Reports May 2014: Optoms Responding to Changing Needs

Education, consultation and flexibility are keys to building a future-proof eye health service.


Andrew McKinnon

Firstly, a gratuitous self-promotion – Super Sunday is coming! Sunday 15 June with workshops on Saturday 14 June. Lots of points and what better way to spend a Sunday in winter? Call (AUS) 02 9712 2199 or www.optometrists.asn.au/nsw.

When I write this column I typically pick something that is topical for me at the time and hopefully has some resonance for members generally. At the moment my topic hot button is ‘complaints’ (or ‘investigations’ in some circumstances). We’ve received 16 notifications in 19 days – absolutely unprecedented. Some are relatively minor retail issues. Some are much more serious – Medicare and Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) investigations.

This is the sort of support that members can expect when they call the OAA for help…

What they all have in common is that they involve a considerable degree of stress for the optometrist concerned – and it’s our job at the Association to try and minimise that stress for our members.

As a case study, take one of the HCCC investigations we are assisting with. A member of the public complained that an optometrist had spent ‘only a few minutes’ examining her eyes and that as a consequence she had no faith that her eye health had been appropriately checked. Other allegations were made as well, many of which were very personally confronting for the optometrist.

As we do in all cases where a member seeks our assistance, we reviewed the complaint and the optometrist’s clinical records, as well as interviewing the member to find out what, if anything they remembered of the patient. The optometrist was adamant that they had spent a significant amount of time with the patient, certainly not the ‘few minutes’ alleged. As we reviewed the clinical notes, we found that the system which the optometrist uses time-stamps all entries. We were thus able to ascertain, with a fair amount of certainty, that a good amount of time had been spent in the consultation, thus addressing the main element of the complaint. The records also showed good detail of the consultation, further adding weight to our member’s version of events.

Having collated the relevant information, we then prepared a draft response to the HCCC on our member’s behalf. This is much easier for us to do, as we aren’t emotionally invested in the complaint. This distance allows us to address the elements of the complaint professionally and concisely – which is what the HCCC is looking for.

This is the sort of support that members can expect when they call the OAA for help – and why, to steal a slogan, it pays to belong.


Terri Smith

Like all states, Victoria is engaged in the day-to-day tussles of making precious health dollars go further for the community. This calls for creative thinking and new ideas about how services are delivered. It’s a question of great interest for everyone, from the Health Minister and the department, to administrators, and right down to individual health practitioners and the all-important patients. Everyone is invested in health services that are effective, efficient and accessible.

Optometrists Association Victoria, too, has integrated models of eye care at the front of our mind. It’s what lies behind Operation GP, a project we have been running to make sure our optometrists and our GPs are communicating as best we can, sharing the care in a way that leads to the best patient experiences and health outcomes.

In March, OAA Vic had the chance to be represented at Victoria’s first Allied Health Conference. A wide range of health professions were represented and we were all there to share practical information, research about care pathways and planning and service delivery, and to talk about the experiences – good and bad – in bringing the vision of integrated care to fruition.

Eye on the Future Dinner

On 3 April we were delighted to hold a successful networking event, the Eye on the Future Dinner, held at the MCG. Over 70 people; optometrists and other health care workers and providers, attended. We were particularly delighted to have as a guest the Victorian Minister for Health, David Davis, who addressed the dinner then joined with other guests to share his thoughts about the important role played by optometrists in contributing to great eye care for all Victorians into the future. The Minister made his personal and practical commitment to integrated care in Victoria very clear, and noted that for a sustainable and effective workforce in the future, it will be essential for health professionals to find creative ways to collaborate.

We were pleased to be able to have the chance to discuss these ideas with a wide range of health professions and organisations represented at our dinner, including the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology (RANZCO), the Australian Medical Association, Networking Health Victoria, several Medicare Locals, the Physiotherapists Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, CERA and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital – amongst others. They joined our leading optometry educators, many member optometrists whose work is focused on collaborative primary care, students from Deakin and Melbourne universities and researchers.

It was a night for putting heads together and talking. As OAA Vic President Kylie Harris put it in her keynote speech: “We all want the same outcome: Victorian eye care services which meet the changing needs of patients, which are responsive to the present, and ready for the future.”

The Association is constantly representing the important role of optometry and optometrists in the eye health spectrum. The Eye on the Future Dinner was a great opportunity to show off optometry on behalf of all our members.


Cristy Ross

Thank you to everyone who joined us on the Gold Coast last month for Australian Vision Convention. It was lovely to see you all and to share with you our exciting plans for next year’s AVC. We truly hope your support of OAA conferences and events continues to satisfy your CPD needs, while providing great opportunities for you to engage with each other.

And remember, all of this has come about as a result of your feedback. We are setting out on a new and exciting journey, working in collaboration across divisions and with our sponsors, exhibitors and delegates to deliver improved experiences for you for the future.

There is an exciting buzz across the Association at the moment and its sparking creative ideas, a new direction and a strong sense of positivity and teamwork. We’re implementing exciting new changes designed to better represent your interests moving forward, with clear benefits for the profession as a whole.

With a new venue for AVC in 2015, new opportunities are opening up for us all. Sponsors will enjoy a more satisfying experience with improved return on investment strategies being drafted as we speak. Exhibitors will enjoy increased flexibility in terms of floor plans, space size and opportunities to secure more interactive spaces to better facilitate customised interaction with delegates. And delegates will be spoiled for choice with new experiences on offer designed to meet the individual needs of each delegate.

There are exciting times ahead and we invite you to join us on this new journey. To be honest, it quite simply wouldn’t be the same without you. After all, it has been your opinions, comments, thoughts and ideas that have led us to make these changes and we would love to celebrate with you as we evolve.

For those seeking warmer climates, your next opportunity to bathe in the sunshine on a gorgeous, golden, sandy beach or by the pool while meeting your CPD requirements is North Queensland Vision, in Cairns on Saturday and Sunday 4–5 October. This year’s conference will be held at the Hilton Cairns Hotel. Stay tuned for more information and for news surrounding the future of NQV as we roll out changes across our CPD offerings in response to your feedback.

On a more personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those I have had the pleasure of working with over the past few years. Your ongoing support, encouragement and commitment to the Association and the optometry profession as a whole, is important to our growth and survival.

Your efforts offer a great deal of inspiration and motivation to up-and-coming optometry graduates, to your fellow colleagues, to our academic members, to OAA boards and staff and most importantly to each other as the Association moves forward in shaping the future of the profession. So, thank you.


Geoff Squibb

The Tasmanian Division conducted its inaugural Workshop Weekend at Cradle Mountain in March. Although numbers were down on expectations, the presentations by Dr. Jonathan Ruddle, Tim Fricke and Dr. Tanya Karlson were first class and well received by participants.

TLC X, Hobart 22-24 August 2014
We are pleased to announce that Alcon will once again be the Gold Sponsor for the 2014 Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress. Our other major sponsors for the event are CooperVision (Congress Dinner), European Eyewear (Australian Low Vision Seminar) and Australian Contact Lenses (Contact Lens Breakfast).

As always a strong list of speakers have agreed to present at Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress, among them our keynote speaker Nathan Efron and Dr. Laura Downie who will present the Annual Keith Mackriell Lecture.

Other speakers include Dr. Paul McCartney, Piers Carozzi, Dr. Sharon Bentley, Graham Sheil, Dr. Alan Johnston, Adrian Bell, Paula Katalinic, Dr Xavier Fagan and Dr. Andrew Traill.

Thirteen Tasmanian members have generously volunteered their time to assist with the Agfest Eye Centre for three days at the beginning of May. This will be the 10th year that the Optometrists Association has conducted eye health and vision screening at Tasmania’s largest regional event.

Tasmanian Optometry Foundation Scholarships
The Tasmanian Optometry Foundation is once again providing financial assistance to promote excellence in optometry in Tasmania and to encourage continuing professional development. This is the fourth year that the scholarships have been offered. Previous recipients of the scholarships have used the funds provided to: undertake overseas study of the assessment and removal of lid lesions; research vision and eye care in residential facilities; study the models and involvement of optometry in public hospitals in Australia; review current practices about low vision and contrast sensitivity loss and their effects on reading fluency and comfort.

Additionally, scholarships have been used to complete the final year of a Bachelor of Optometry; to gain a therapeutics qualification; and more recently to attend and apply for Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry.

The awards will normally be granted to an optometrist, student or researcher wishing to upgrade their qualification, enhance their professional development or contribute to the advancement of optometry in Tasmania.

Further details and an application form are currently available for downloading from the Optometrists Association Australia (Tasmanian Division) website: www.optometrists.asn.au/tasmania or by contacting CEO, Geoff Squibb on (AUS) 03 62243360.


Tony Martella

OAA WA has entered a partnership with the Leederville TAFE college in Western Australia. Working under the supervision of the optical dispensers’ course Lecturer Donna Cashman, the optical dispensing students will learn their trade and test their skills on real life work, specifically, with ready-made spectacles. This will involve the use of the latest style frames including rimless and fitting them with ready-made powers. The finished product will provide OAA WA with a stock pile of ready-made spectacles that can be dispensed to appropriate patients during the many community health programs and homeless clinics we participate in throughout the year.

To meet the needs of the program, OAA WA has sourced a variety of suitable new frames for the students to work on. CR Surfacing Laboratories have once again generously donated the lens stock for use within this project.

In the past students have been limited to working with second hand frames and lenses so the opportunity to gain first-hand experience by putting together complete glasses using new components provides a much more professionally valuable – not to mention enjoyable – experience.

Additionally, the students will be contributing to a very worthwhile community cause, one that will hopefully inspire further community contributions in years to come.

Anyone interested in taking part or supplying/donating materials for any of the homeless clinics and projects should contact OAAWA directly.