How to get the most out of your AOA member benefits
If optometry is your calling, then AOA is your community. AOA membership not only grants you access to a variety of tools, resources and benefits but also bolsters the voice for the profession. Here's what you can expect from your membership.
1. Grow your staff, grow your practice.
AOA member doctors can enroll their practice staff as AOA associate members—at no additional cost to the paraoptometric or enrolling doctor—and gain access to the Paraoptometric Resource Center. This comprehensive education library equips paraoptometrics with the skill sets necessary for an optometric practice and prepares them to earn professional certifications that can help grow your practice.
"I like being able to go to the Paraoptometric Resource Center and find information to share with my team," says Melanie Jenkins, CPO. "I am the office manager, and with that role, I am responsible for staff training and weekly staff meetings. It has been a great source for letting our team members see the importance of paraoptometric certification and continuing education unique to their job duties and responsibilities."
Enrolled your staff? Now foster their professional development and encourage staff to seek certification. It's a win-win for doctors and paraoptometric staff.
2. Defining practice tools, defining reimbursement.
The AOA's quality clinical data registry, AOA MORE (Measures and Outcomes Registry for Eyecare), seamlessly integrates data from EHR and analyzes it to help doctors of optometry improve patient care and meet federal reporting requirements, such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). In 2017 alone, doctors of optometry using AOA MORE to complete their first 2017 MIPS data submission and attestation avoided at least $721,000 in penalties. Valued at $1,800/year for nonmembers, AOA MORE is included with AOA membership at no additional cost.
"I found the AOA MORE Dashboard and Performance Measures tabs to be extremely helpful in achieving a high MIPS score," says Bob Harper, O.D. "The Performance Measures tab would allow me to view the patient account numbers of cases that had required information missing or recorded in a non-counted field of the medical record. I was then able to edit the patient's medical record to more accurately represent the information to be counted by the MIPS program through AOA MORE."
3. One voice, one profession.
As the sole advocate for the profession, the AOA and state associations ensure optometry's concerns are heard in Washington, D.C., state capitals and third-party arenas. Recognized among the most effective, elite advocacy organizations, the AOA works closely with individual doctors and state associations to put priority issues in the spotlight and get results. In fact, the AOA has helped secure more than $1.3 billion in Medicare payments to doctors of optometry, while a 24/7/365 approach to advocacy, working in tandem with state associations, seeks to modernize state laws to ensure doctors are able to meet the growing needs of their patients.
4. Make connections, make inroads.
The AOA offers a number of ways to help members connect with their profession, starting with the premier membership conference, Optometry's Meeting®. Membership affords discounted registration for the annual meeting, where featured experts, exciting entertainment, leading professional development, advocacy events and an industry-wide trade show bring together optometry's movers and shakers for the betterment of the profession. Local meetings allow members the opportunity to connect with doctors in their home state and build a network they can rely upon.
"By taking advantage of attendance at local and national AOA meetings, I have been able to network and form relationships with more experienced and successful doctors," says Jodi Baker, O.D. "They have shared advice and insights with me that as a new optometrist I would describe as completely invaluable."
5. Drive awareness, drive exams.
Complementing the AOA's advocacy efforts is its mission to elevate the profession in the public perception. That's why the AOA works tirelessly to promote optometry with integrity and demonstrate how doctors of optometry care for patients' eye health both in the exam room and in everyday life. A concerted public awareness campaign seeks to educate Americans about the importance of regular, in-person, comprehensive eye exams and the dangers of taking shortcuts in their eye health.
Membership also opens up practice listing opportunities on the AOA's website via the "Find a Doctor" online directory, allowing new patients a quick, easy way to find your services.
September marks Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, the only formal observance dedicated to honor optometric practice staff. Three ways for doctors to honor their staff and for paraoptometrics to advance their careers.