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HomeminewsOptometry Australia Moves Publications Online Only

Optometry Australia Moves Publications Online Only

Optometry Australia has announced that as January 2016 two of its publications; Australian Optometry and Clinical Experimental Optometry will cease to be published in print. The two publications will remain available online. mivision spoke to Optometry Australia’s National Communications Manager, Sandra Shaw, about why the decision was made and the anticipated impact on the profession.

Australian Optometry has a long and proud history. When was it established and by whom?
Australian Optometry was established in 1987. The inaugural editor was Joe Chakman.

How has the publication developed since then (in terms of content and focus)?
From simple beginnings, Australian Optometry developed into a high-quality, professionally produced publication delivering to members news and information, and always with a primary focus on content that they could not access elsewhere. It launched a suite of supplement magazines, including Pharma, Equipment, Practice, Contact Lenses, Lenses and Guide4Grads. These high standards are reflected in Australian Optometry Online, which was launched in 2013. The Australian Optometry App is due to be launched late this year.

How do you think the optometry communication landscape has changed in this time?
The most obvious change is the transition to digital communications, both in the wider community and in the optometry sector. People’s reliance on and expectations of electronic channels continues exponentially.

Are there key achievements over this period, in terms of breaking stories, that you are proud and would like to share with readers?
The major breaking stories are too numerous to number but they follow the outstanding achievements of the optometry profession over recent decades, including the overturning of the Labor government’s decision to drop optometry from Medicare, therapeutic prescribing rights, participation in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and prescribing of anti-glaucoma medications. Positioned at the hub of the peak professional organisation, Australian Optometry has intimate knowledge of Optometry Australia’s activities and is supported by highly-experienced journalists who specialise in health-care news.

How do you believe Australian Optometry has impacted the broader optometry landscape in Australia?
Australian Optometry has built a reputation among all stakeholders for reliable, authoritative news and information. The optometric profession, ophthalmic industry, eye-care sector and decision-makers have a deeper understanding of the issues affecting optometry because of the nature of much of Australian Optometry’s content, especially the articles on advocacy.

What is the main reason for moving to online only?
There are two main reasons for moving to digital-only communications. We are keeping pace with a fast-changing world and media generally, providing our members with the immediate, easy access to news and information that they want. We are also able to make the best use of membership fees by redirecting resources to other services while delivering news using cutting-edge technology.

Were members pushing for this?
We have been working towards the transition for five years and our members have increasingly been encouraging us to change. Consultation, collaboration and planning were vital to the process.

Recognising that the Optometry Australia survey found that 68 per cent of members were happy with the idea of going online, what has been the reaction now that you have made the announcement?
We invited members to comment on the decision to make Australian Optometry and Clinical and Experimental Optometry digital-only publications. One week after the announcement, only eight comments have been received and they are overwhelmingly supportive.

Will the editorial team be expanded to manage the daily updates and weekly e-newsletters?
The existing editorial team of professional health-care journalists will be redeployed to produce the content required for the website, electronic newsletters and apps, while continuing to produce Pharma and Equipment in print.

What do you hope optometrists/members will gain from the publication going online?
Fresh news and information will be delivered to any desktop or mobile device, anywhere and anytime, with just a click or tap – that’s a powerful opportunity for us to provide communications that are better, faster and easier to access. All the news will have open access on the website and app, for all optometrists. For our members, highly-valued member-only services will continue to require a login.

How does Optometry Australia plan to re-direct monies saved from print production to better meet the needs of members?
In line with our strategic plan, there are many projects being undertaken during the 2015-2016 financial year for which we have made provision using members’ investment in membership of Optometry Australia’s state organisations. These projects include development of the Australian Optometry App, optimisation of our website to accommodate the increased online presence, further collaboration with stakeholders to promote the role of eye health in Australia, and surveying members on clinical practice.