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Improved care coordination with doctor, staff education

If "contemporary optometric practice" is the name, then integrated continuing education (CE) is the game-and paraoptometrics are next on deck.

As optometric scope of practice expansion continues to allow doctors of optometry to practice to the top of their license, utilizing their full education and training to meet the increasing demands on the U.S. health care system, optometric staff shouldn't be overlooked. Increased responsibilities, procedures and demands on the part of the doctor translates into a greater need for proven, skilled support on the part of their staff. That's why Optometry's Meeting®, June 24-28, is devoting even greater emphasis to the kind of education that helps optometric practices deliver cohesive, coordinated care.

Integrated CE courses encourage participation by both doctors and paraoptometrics on topics that impact the synchronization of care provided to patients. And this year Optometry's Meeting offers over 18 hours of integrated CE credits through a range of one- or two-hour courses on topics including:

  • Systemic diseases and eye health.
  • Ordering lab tests.
  • ICD-10 coding and E/M documentation.
  • Contact lenses.
  • Low vision.
  • Pediatric patients.

Paraoptometrics are essential for the effective delivery of care by not only carrying out crucial office tasks, such as front desk procedures, patient management, coding and billing, but also supporting doctors in providing comprehensive and specialized eye health care, says Tamara Petrosyan, O.D., AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee member.

"This makes it critical that doctors and their staff are on the same page for patient care, from the moment a patient calls in to when that patient walks out the door and every minute in between," Dr. Petrosyan says. "Joint courses help ensure that paraoptometrics have a strong understanding of the concepts and techniques we use in optometric patient care and are able to apply them in the office."

Moreover, the integrated education offered at this and future Optometry's Meetings will begin orienting paraoptometrics toward the education and skillsets necessary to support the highest level of optometric scope of practice. As doctors of optometry begin providing advanced surgical and laser procedures, it's important that paraoptometrics learn the most up-to-date information to enhance their own clinical care and patient management knowledge, says Linda Rodriguez, CPO, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee chair.

"The contemporary optometric practice follows a clinical model of care that keeps expanding; doctors of optometry are relying on knowledgeable and trained assistants and technicians to effectively satisfy the needs of their patient populations," Rodriguez says.

"The coordinated care between trained, skilled and knowledgeable paraoptometric staff and the doctor of optometry allows the doctor to be effectively engaged with the patient and their plan of care."

Beyond Optometry's Meeting, the AOA also offers training and educational resources that can develop the skillsets of doctors' optometric staff. Simply enroll staff as AOA associate members, at no cost to the AOA member doctor, and then access a range of training materials through the AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center. Even take paraoptometrics' education one step further and encourage certification to ensure your practice is positioned for the future.

"Getting your paraoptometric staff certified as a CPO, CPOA or CPOT is a wonderful way to guide and ensure proper training for the staff in your practice," Dr. Petrosyan says.

Aside from the integrated education track, Optometry's Meeting also offers a dedicated paraoptometric CE track with topics ranging from dispensing and specialty contact lenses to coding and customer service principles. In fact, paraoptometrics can select from a catalog of 43 different CE courses that fit every practice's needs. And that's just the education.

Attend the Paraoptometric Awards Luncheon, June 25, to honor the outstanding contributions of AOA paraoptometric associate members and then head over to the Paraoptometric Idea Exchange-immediately following-to join with peers across the country, networking and learning how paraoptometrics also can advocate for the profession. Be sure to register for these events in advance.

"Integrated continuing education is a great opportunity that shouldn't be missed by any doctor-or paraoptometric," Rodriguez says. "Registering as a team for Optometry's Meeting 2020 is an important and positive investment for today's optometric practice."

Want to attend?

Interested in attending one or all of these joint doctor-paraoptometric courses at Optometry's Meeting? Open the complete 2020 CE catalog and search the "OD/Para Education Track" to find times and course information.

Make sure to take advantage of early-bird registration discounts, now through April 1, so you and your staff can take in five days of industry-best CE when you attend Optometry's Meeting, June 24-28, in National Harbor, Maryland/Washington, D.C. These limited-time, low registration rates can save AOA member doctors and optometric staff nearly 20% off on-site registration fees.

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Need registration assistance? Contact customer service for registration help at 484.398.0856, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

February 20, 2020

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