How do good doctors compete with bad companies?
Excerpted from page 48 of the April/May 2019 edition of AOA Focus.
"There's an app for that," Apple's one-time trademarked slogan, unofficially ushered in an era of rapid technological adoption that's focused on one thing and one thing alone—convenience.
Like many professions, optometry faces unparalleled challenges from new technologies and companies pushing unproven, opportunistic services that degrade the established standard of care in favor of use-when-you-need-it functionality. Well intentioned as some may be, these new technologies threaten to create barriers and delay timely patient care and disrupt the doctor-patient relationship.
"Optometrists and patient care, in general, are facing unprecedented disruption from disreputable companies who seek to interrupt patient care purely for profit," says Jeffrey Sonsino, O.D., Healthcare Alliance for Patient Safety executive board member. "Most importantly is what each and every one of us optometrists can do about it in our daily lives."
That's the focus of Dr. Sonsino's continuing education (CE) course at Optometry's Meeting®, June 19-23 in St. Louis. Titled, "Optometry in the Age of Disruption: How Good Doctors Compete with Bad Companies," the course will expose some of the worst behaviors and examples of companies looking to drive a wedge between doctors and their patients, Dr. Sonsino says, as well as what national organizations, such as the AOA and the Healthcare Alliance for Patient Safety, are doing to combat the problem.
Additionally, the course emphasizes how doctors can take an active role in educating patients about the importance of eye and vision health services that meet the recognized standard of care, including using the latest clinical technologies to underscore primary eye care. Dr. Sonsino will discuss multiple ways to improve efficiency within the practice, new companies and partners who emphasize the doctor-patient relationship, and even how to incorporate telemedicine to enhance—not supplant—patient care.
"I hope attendees come away from this course with a new sense of how they can improve their practices to compete in the coming years, but also a renewed sense of optimism," Dr. Sonsino says. "As long as we continue to place our patients' best interest ahead of all other concerns, optometry will remain viable and strong well into the future."
Protecting patients, profession
The AOA continues to advocate for the doctor-patient relationship and push back against companies that threaten patient health and safety, be it online contact lens retailers that disregard marketplace requirements outlined by the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act or Contact Lens Rule; app-based vision tests that separate refractive tests from comprehensive eye health exams; or over-reliance on telemedicine services that preclude doctors of optometry from providing timely, routine care.
Only when such technologies are appropriately used to supplement access to the high-value, high-quality eye and vision care provided by doctors of optometry and not sacrifice the established standard of care set by in-person, comprehensive eye examinations, can the AOA support such advances.
"'The only constant is change' is a very well-known saying in life," Dr. Sonsino notes. "If doctors of optometry rest on their laurels and do not continue to place innovative strategies in their practices, the world will pass them by."
The AOA will use the time to evaluate its collection efforts and create a registry for the future that is most useful to improving eye health and vision care. The AOA launched the registry in 2015.
Even if you’re choosing to disengage, today’s politics have a way of finding you. What are the ground rules for approaching political debates in the practice?
Under new rules for the 21st Century Cures Act, doctors of optometry will need to prepare for changes going into effect April 5. Doctors should check in with their health IT vendor in order to make sure they meet the new requirements.