Industry, educators, employers to collaborate on future of optometry
ATLANTA – Representatives from major corporations, optometry schools and employers gathered here at SECO to sign a proclamation declaring their joint commitment to work together to further the profession.
Howard Purcell, OD, president and CEO of New England College of Optometry (NECO), explained that a group first gathered at NECO in November 2019 to begin discussions.
“It was our job to lift the hood and expose the good stuff and the challenges in optometric education in the hopes that we can contribute in a more effective and productive manner,” Purcell said. “Our efforts are to bring everyone’s incredible resources together to focus on some of the key elements we’re all invested in. If we do not produce the best product in an optometrist, everyone in this room is impacted by that. That was the impetus.”
The group established 10 important issues in November:
- business acumen,
- impact of technology,
- private equity and consolidation,
- expanding and practicing full-scope optometry,
- health care reform and third-party payors,
- transitioning to medical services,
- why practice optometry,
- debt and the cost of education,
- serving rural communities, and
- practice setting bias.
Those who signed the proclamation at SECO committed to the first three of the 10 issues: practice empowerment and acceleration, public perception and expectation of optometry, and the impact of technology on optometry/the impact of optometry on technology.
Primary signatories included Essilor of America, Jobson, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Luxottica and the NECO, according to a press release.
Thomas Swinnen, president of Johnson & Johnson Vision, also spoke at the event, pointing out the global myopia challenge.
He said the situation is “a disaster. Our main focus is to drive up the standard of care. This is an industry challenge. How do we enable the optometrist in practice to service these patients in a meaningful way?
“There’s too much stress on convenience over standard of care,” he continued. “How do you create awareness? This is 2020. How do we leverage that? People aren’t aware of the impact of eye health. This is not just a challenge for academia; it’s a challenge for all of us.”
Purcell explained that over the next 6 to 8 months, participants will be asked to join subgroups to explore the first three areas and create solutions. A follow-up meeting is planned for Oct. 25 at NECO in Boston.