Scott A. Edmonds, OD, FAAO, focuses his blog on the role of the optometrist in health care reform – moving from primary eye care to primary health care. He is the chief medical officer of MARCH Vision Care, the co-director of the Low Vision/Contact Lens Service at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia and a member of the Primary Care Optometry News Editorial Board. 

Disclosure: Edmonds is a consultant for March Vision.

BLOG: The case for primary care

My hat is off the optometrists in Kentucky that not only have passed legislation that allows optometrists to provide primary care, they also founded a new school with the primary care mission. In a February 2017 article in The Lane Report, the author notes, “In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in patients’ overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, which affect a much higher number of Kentuckians than the national average.”

Primary care services, prevention and wellness on the front end and the aggressive management of chronic medical problems on the back end are the key to better heath for America and the fiscal solution to the American health care system. This care needs to be delivered by a broad base of health care providers that have easy and regular access to people where they live, work and play. Optometrists need to be part of this solution and need to take aggressive steps to move the profession in this direction.

References:

Association of American Medical Colleges. 2016 Update: The complexities of physician supply and demand: Projections from 2014 to 2025. https://www.aamc.org/download/458082/data/2016_complexities_of_supply_and_demand_projections.pdf. Posted April 5, 2016. Accessed August 28, 2018.

Blumenthal D, et al. N Engl J Med. 2015;372:2451-2458;doi:10.1056/NEJMhpr1503614.

Cassidy A. Health Policy Briefs. Nurse practitioners and primary care. Posted October 25, 2012.

Wollenhaupt G. The Lane Report. New Kentucky College of Optometry in Pikeville will help fill health care gap in Appalachia. Posted February 1, 2017.