In his farewell address, outgoing AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., delivered and characterized the state of the AOA. His assessment: The AOA is strong and growing stronger.
"We've seen membership increasing," Dr. Quinn stated Saturday, ticking off a long list of AOA wins over the past year, as Optometry's Meeting® 2018 neared its closing. "We've had multiple advocacy victories on the state and federal level. We've had regulatory victories recognizing the importance of optometric care. We have a PR program that has never been stronger or more successful. And we have continued development of tools to enhance education research and support members."
But unprecedented challenges remain, he noted. There are threats to the profession and patient access to care on various fronts: from the regulatory side, from unscrupulous contact lens sellers online and from abuses by powerful vision plans.
Yet, Dr. Quinn said, the AOA won't yield to the threats, including those posed by our "David and Goliath" fight with the FTC over its unnecessary paperwork proposal, and will continue to uphold the standard-of-care banner of comprehensive eye examinations.
"We'll fight to make sure nothing stands between the care you provide and the patients who need that care," Dr. Quinn said.
With the help of members, he added.
"At the end of the day, it's the value proposition of membership that drives the success of this organization," Dr. Quinn said. "I hope we've proven that value. It's been a highly productive, successful year. And we should feel proud of the achievements we've met this year."
House of Delegates approves resolutions
The 121st AOA Congress adjourned Saturday, but not before delegates approved adoption of several resolutions. Of those resolutions, the House of Delegates voted to:
- Urge states' drivers' licensing requirements include sufficient vision screenings. Resolves AOA and affiliates to continue their advocacy of laws and/or regulations in each state that provide suitable, adequate vision testing for a driver's license on initial licensing and subsequent renewals.
- Establish an AOA Education Center. This resolution emboldens the AOA Education Center Committee to deliver integrated, high-quality continuing education (CE) and content based on data-driven standards that align with the eight principles of CE education as agreed upon in Resolution 1998, and continue establishing AOA as the leader in the delivery of post-graduate education in partnership with affiliates to AOA members.
- Support bolstering optometric education. Consistent with letters issued to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) by AOA's Board of Trustees, AOA affirms its support for fair, verifiable application of accreditation standards, including those of new programs, and for making full use of all information available relevant to student outcomes. Additionally, AOA affirms its full recognition and endorsement of the complete independence of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) in establishing, maintaining and enforcing accreditation standards for education. Furthermore, AOA calls on optometric stakeholders to strengthen the optometric education enterprise to protect optometry's future.
- Commit AOA to the nationwide opioid response. The AOA will collaborate with federal health care stakeholders to assist in the nationwide opioid addiction response, and to better integrate doctors of optometry within health care and community systems to reduce opioid related harm.
- Urge licensing exam entities to reform exams. Directs AOA to call on the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) to adopt valid, reliable reforms to its Part III exam to place greater emphasis on cognitive skills, interpersonal communication and clinical decision-making in standard and novel patient encounters, and in turn less emphasis on testing motor skills.
- Urge licensing exam agencies to reform testing administration. Directs AOA to call on NBEO to reform administration of its Part III exam in a way that will reduce the financial burden on optometry students, including the ability to take that exam at regional testing locations as opposed to the current sole testing location in North Carolina.
- Reform the nominating process for AOA's Nominating Committee. Encourages affiliate associations to propose candidates to the AOA's Nominating Committee who are past presidents or current board members of their associations, given their extensive knowledge of pertinent issues facing the profession.
Hackathon IV: AI and diabetic care
For the second consecutive year, Optometry's Meeting hosted an inter-professional, brainstorming, networking and collaborative competition known as a hackathon. Titled, "Hackathon IV: Artificial Intelligence & Care of the Diabetic Patient," the event brought together teams of residents, students, faculty, researchers and practicing doctors of optometry to examine how diabetic patients are currently cared for by optometry, ophthalmology, primary care providers, nurses, podiatrists and dentists.
Tasked with adapting artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient outcomes for diabetic retinopathy, the hackathon's goal is to present a plausible model to the National Eye Institute (NEI) that might better diagnose and manage patients with diabetic retinopathy.
Session facilitator Thomas Wong, O.D., director of new technologies at State University of New York College of Optometry, described how AI is becoming an increasingly prominent part of our daily lives, and health care can adopt some of these lessons for better patient outcomes.
"We want to create a collaborative environment," Dr. Wong tasked attendees. "We're identifying opportunities and understanding the user experience to help us better understand these problems, and we're here for what's best for patients."
Catch up on everything Optometry's Meeting
Couldn't make it to Denver? Catch up on all the news that came out of Optometry's Meeting with AOA's daily news roundup at aoa.org/news, and follow the excitement at #OM2018 on AOA's dedicated social media page.
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Given the doors that were once closed and are now open to women and people of color in society, it might be expected that the faces of optometry would reflect the changing demographics of the nation. And with the nation’s reckoning over social injustice in 2020 stirring anew concerns over diversity and inclusiveness, the profession is asking whether optometry reflects the nation’s changing demographics—and why should that matter?