AAO, APAO leaders tout strength in numbers

Las Vegas-Leaders of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) touted strength in numbers in remarks at the opening session of the first joint meeting of the two organizations in November.

AAO President Harry A. Zink, MD, said this strength could be harnessed for advocacy on behalf of the profession, especially relating to proposed Medicare reimbursement cuts.

"We need to be sure that our patients' health care needs are met, that the system remains economically viable, and that quality and effective health care, not just less expensive health care, is the goal. The projected Medicare reimbursement cuts do not meet these standards," he said. "These cuts are unreasonable, unfair, and unsustainable. Physicians cannot and should not be singled out for cuts while hospitals and Medicare HMOs receive significant increases year after year."

The interest Congress has in pay-for- performance initiatives, Dr. Hoskins said, could result in "a boondoggle. More patient reporting, more physician reporting, and maybe not a whole lot of patient benefit."

If such initiatives are planned, however, then ophthalmologists should be part of the process, he said.

Toward that end, the AAO, working with specialist societies, has developed eight performance measures related to primary open-angle glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and other areas of ophthalmology.

Record-setting gathering

In his remarks, APAO President Yasuo Tano, MD, said that the joint meeting was "the biggest ophthalmology gathering ever."

Indeed, the AAO subsequently announced that registration, at 32,574, set a record; 27,249 people attended the meeting.

Of the APAO, Dr. Tano said, "Members of our academy are spread over a wide spectrum of social, economic, cultural, and religious backgrounds and are delivering eye care to people comprising far more than half of the world's entire population. We should realize this may represent the greatest diversity of a single medical society on earth."

With enthusiasm, hard work, and "robust collaboration with friendly societies such as the [AAO,]" Dr. Tano said, ophthalmologists in the Asian Pacific region can surmount challenges related to their collective size, differences, and limited resources to restore and preserve sight.

Dr. Hoskins told those attending the opening session, "This is the first of what we hope will be many collaborative activities with our colleagues from the Asian Pacific region."

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