From NSW, Andrew McKinnon previews Super Sunday and discusses the importance of clear communication… while Geoff Squibb, from Tasmania, discusses the changing nature of school screenings.
Super Sunday, Optometry New South Wales’ annual one-day conference, has sold out! Proving that this event is not just for those in Sydney, Super Sunday has attracted eye health professionals from around the state and the country.
With a stellar speaker line-up and great support from our industry partners, Super Sunday has much to offer – look for the highlights which will be written up in the July issue of mivision.
We Must Communicate
We recently asked members to do a short survey for us on things they don’t like about the Association. We got a quite substantive response, but when we sorted through the replies, the thing that struck us was that a large proportion of the criticism was about things that we had, in fact, done (or tried
to do) yet members didn’t know about.
a large proportion of the criticism was about things that we had, in fact, done (or tried to do) but members didn’t know about it…
That brought us up short – we had actually done a whole lot of things, but the members were saying that we hadn’t. Communication problem. The real problem is that we, as an Association, use just about every form of communication imaginable to talk to our members about what is happening – email, SMS, print, Facebook, you name it, we use it. But it clearly isn’t cutting through.
The issue seems to be clutter and noise – all of us receive so much ‘communication’ that we automatically filter out what isn’t directly relevant. And if an Association message isn’t relevant to a member at a given point in time, chances are that member won’t register what we have said… so we’ve failed in our communication to that member. Not sure how we fix this, but we’re working on it.
Coincidentally, we’ve also had a run of members of the public calling us with questions about treatment received and charges. Just as I wrote this article I spoke to a gentleman who had been billed AU$75 for “something” – it turned out that it was an Optos scan. As we spoke, it became clear to him that he had, indeed, received the service and he did, sort of, recall discussing charges. But it wasn’t abundantly clear to him. Communication problem. Maybe for this gentleman, taking just an extra minute or so to ensure that he fully understood what was being offered would have prevented his concerns.
Worth a thought.
School Vision Screening
For many years the Tasmanian Division has been concerned about the lack of recognition of optometry by school healthnurses employed by the Department of Health Services.
The Department of Health and Human Services practice was for Child and Family Health Nurses attached to schools to refer students less than eight years of age to an Orthoptist or a General Practitioner for their initial assessment. The Association believed this policy not to be in the best interest of the child nor the tax payer with the additional Medicare costs involved, compared to a referral straight to an optometrist.
The previous State Government decided to end the hearing and vision checks in schools at the end of 2013 and replace them with a more comprehensive ‘Healthy Kids Check’ for all children aged three to five. This program was to be available either through the Department’s Child Health and Parenting Service or the Family GP. Health workers and community organisations were concerned that many children at risk would fall through the cracks as there was no guarantee parents would take their children to appointments.
Health Department nurses were withdrawn from schools and the ‘Healthy Kids Check’ introduced. The Tasmanian Association was not too concerned about the withdrawal of the Child and Family Health nurses due to their policy of not referring to an optometrist and a number of our members reported increased interest from parents for vision tests prior to the commencement of the school year.
The current Tasmanian government and the Health Minister in particular seem to me more pro-active with regard to children’s vision and Optometry Tasmania looks forward to continuing dialogue with Health Minister Michael Ferguson and the implementation of kindergarten and primary school vision screenings similar to some other States in the near future.