AOA works toward accrediting body for optometry
DENVER – Outgoing American Optometric Association President Chris Quinn, OD, in his final presidential address to the House of Delegates during Optometry’s Meeting, explained how the group is continuing to work to develop an accrediting system for postgraduate education.
Quinn told the delegates that the AOA is working with the American Academy of Optometry, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry, “to create an independent, credible accreditor of CE consistent with the principles adopted by the profession in Dallas at the CE summit held in 2016, modeled after other health care professions like medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, pharmacy and podiatry.”
Quinn said an optometric research summit is scheduled for July, “bringing together all schools and colleges of optometry to discuss important fundamentals of research as it affects optometry.”
Participants will look at the current status of research and national research efforts and priorities, set goals and put goals into action, he said.
Quinn also said that the AOA’s board developed a revised strategic plan: “The American Optometric Association is the acknowledged leader and recognized authority for advancing eye, vision and health care.” He said it also includes a sub-plan: “The AOA Board of Trustees hereby affirms that advocacy for doctors of optometry and their patients and for optometry students is the highest organizational priority.”
The outgoing president said that the AOA’s support for state advocacy continues at an unprecedented rate.
“Last year we tracked and advocated 72 pieces of legislation on patient plan abuses, patient protection and scope of practice,” he said.
The AOA Health Policy Institute works to inform the advocacy program, Quinn said.
“They take an evidence-based approach to look at issues and put it into a report that ultimately results in good patient care,” he said. “They helped us in our case against Opternative. We relied on them to address the national opioid crisis. Other topics include missed vision problems and vision screening vs. amblyopia screening. We worked with them to point out the pitfalls of online eye exams and help us with the unmet need for care among U.S. kids.”
Quinn also noted that the AOA is a founding member of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, which brings appropriate perspectives to legislators and health care policy makers.
He said the association’s public relations campaign “went into overdrive” in 2017-2018 to build awareness of the profession as the eye care experts.
Through these efforts, the AOA has advocated the importance of comprehensive eye exams, children’s eye health, the dangers of online vision apps and safety surrounding the solar eclipse.
“We partnered with NASA to get the message out for safety and eye health,” he said.
The AOA also supports the Think About Your Eyes campaign, which resulted in 3.4 incremental eye exams in 2017.
“It’s been a great year of many successes, but challenges remain,” Quinn said.
Continued work is necessary in the areas of nondiscrimination, pediatric Essential Health Benefit, optometry in the Veterans Administration, substandard care resulting from screening, vision plan abuses, “unscrupulous” contact lens vendors, “dishonest” online exam sellers “who really try to deceive our patients to lead them to believe they’re receiving quality eye care,” he said.
Quinn also discussed the AOA’s battle with the FTC against its proposed requirement that patients sign a form acknowledging that they received their contact lens prescription.
“The entire organization is in a full court press against the unnecessary paperwork rule,” he said. “Our perspective is the lack of enforcement is really on the agency against illegal sale of contact lenses. We will work to make sure that proposed rule never sees the light of day.” – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS FAAO