October 17, 2016
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ODs should embrace role of primary care provider

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To the Editor:

I have great respect for your work, Dr. DePaolis, and your editorial in the August issue (“ODs have an obligation to discuss obesity with patients”) is one of many on which you have hit the nail on the head.

While you say optometry is adequately positioned for primary health care in general, it seems that a significant minority of optometrists have had a reluctance to accept such a duty. The clearest example I can provide is the meaningful use attestations of the last 5 years, which have shown insufficient numbers of optometrists willing to participate in the actual measurement and documentation of a patient’s height and weight periodically as part of their care delivery. In fact, many national forums have included commentary that suggests that optometrists avoid such measurements or instead short-cut the process by taking a patient’s self-reported height and weight.

Certified electronic health records have had the ability to deliver automatically calculated body mass index scores, and even growth charts for children, to help provide any health care provider with additional information that may assist him or her in delivering the most focused and appropriate care to a patient. Why do optometrists generally feel that these measurements have no role in our primary care service delivery model? Because at the core they feel that primary eye and vision care is the obligation – and that should include contributing to the overall welfare of the patient’s health.

Perhaps with more editorials like yours, including published links to key studies that can give optometrists the scientific data to help them justify their role as primary health care providers, we will make headway on this. For those optometrists who have embraced this role, it is clear that they have a much better position to be successful in their community and in the health care system as a whole.

Scott Jens, OD, FAAO
Chief executive officer, RevolutionEHR