AAO leadership: Educate, advocate, be involved

November 15, 2010

Expert discusses the ways in which the AAO can help ophthalmologists survive and thrive in an uncertain economy.

In such an uncertain environment, Dr. Johnston talked about the many ways in which the academy can help ophthalmologists to survive and thrive: lifelong learning, practice efficiency, and advocacy.

"Education has historically been AAO's greatest strength," he said.

The presence of members of the baby boomer generation and patients who are uninsured demands that practices become efficient, he pointed out. Along with the increased numbers of patients, there is not going to be an increased number of ophthalmologists. Increased practice efficiency requires increased patient throughput via delegation of some practice tasks to technicians and optometrists; in the latter case, ophthalmologists would not necessarily have to see all patients.

"Patient throughput is 30% higher in practices with optometrists, and practice incomes are increasing in practices with optical shops and optometrists," Dr. Johnston said.

AAO is working to develop multiple models of more efficient ophthalmologist-led integrated eye-care teams.

Regarding advocacy, "the most effective way to cope with change is to help create it," he said. He urged ophthalmologists to join their state ophthalmologic society, attend Advocacy Day, contribute, travel to Washington, DC, to forward ophthalmology's goals, and attend the AAO mid-year forum.