Dr. Mali's top 5 stories in ophthalmology in 2017 (so far)

September 23, 2017

So far, 2017 has been a very exciting year for both ophthalmology and healthcare as a whole. We still have a few months left for more excitement, so stay tuned!

Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Joshua Mali, MD, a vitreoretinal surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multispecialty ophthalmology practice in Sarasota, FL. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.

1) The Healthcare Law still in limbo

President Trump and Congress are still working on a solution for healthcare reform which is easily the single most important issue in the healthcare sector today.

Whether it is complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or adjustment to existing healthcare law, the majority of Americans can agree that we must have stabilization of the United States healthcare system in order to allow all of us as physicians/ophthalmologists to continue to provide the best healthcare delivery for our patients.

Certainly, the results of these political negotiations and the United States legislative process will reshape the way we practice medicine for years to come.  

 

2) New Board Certification program shows innovation and great promise

Quarterly Questions is a pilot program being tested by the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) as an alternative method for assessing the knowledge of practicing board certified ophthalmologists for MOC (Maintenance of Certification).

The program, currently optional for all diplomates, uses a longitudinal assessment model to analyze diplomate performance over time. If the pilot is successful, the new program may replace the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) examination.1

As a board certified ophthalmologist and ABO diplomate, I am currently using the pilot program and find it to be fantastic. I encourage all board certified ophthalmologists to consider utilizing it in their maintenance of certification.

 

3) Ranibizumab gets new FDA approved indications 

Whenever a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor gets a new FDA-approved clinical indication, it makes my top 5. If an anti-VEGF gets two new indications in the same year, you definitely make my top 3 and that is where ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech) sits on my list.

In January of this year, ranibizumab became the first anti-VEGF therapy approved to treat patients with myopic choroidal neovascularization (mCNV) in the United States. To follow that up in April 2017, ranibizumab received FDA approval for the treatment of all forms of diabetic retinopathy.

While I believe aflibercept (Eylea, Regeneron) will also eventually achieve these FDA-approved indications in the near future, these approvals for ranibizumab are a great step forward for the entire class of anti-VEGF inhibitors.

 

4) Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may affect healthcare facilities and patient access

The devastating aftermath from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean have caused significant disruption for healthcare facilities and restricted access to healthcare for patients especially in the isolated Caribbean islands. While the rebuilding process is currently underway and is showing tremendous progress, there is no doubt that the effects of these natural disasters will be felt for years to come.

 

5) Ophthalmic industry mergers/acquisitions continue    

As predicted by my previous article in December 2016 (please see Dr. Mali's top 5 predictions in ophthalmology for 2017)2, ophthalmic industry mergers and acquisitions are increasing at a rapid rate; 2017 has already seen such industry maneuvers such as Johnson & Johnson's acquisition of TearScience, Inotek Pharmaceuticals entering into a definitive merger agreement with Rocket Pharmaceuticals, and Luxottica Group (maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses) merging with French optical-lens maker Essilor International, just to name a few of these industry collaborations.

I would not be surprised to see a few more of these types of deals before the end of 2017. 

So far, 2017 has been a very exciting year for both ophthalmology and healthcare as a whole. We still have a few months left for more excitement, so stay tuned!

 

References

1.  https://abop.org/maintain-certification/pilot-programs/

2.  Mali, Joshua. Dr. Mali's top 5 predictions in ophthalmology for 2017. Ophthalmology Times. December 24, 2016.

 

 

Joshua Mali, MD, is a board certified ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multispecialty ophthalmology practice in Sarasota, Florida. He can be reached at 941-923-2020. He is currently a consultant for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where he also conducts research and receives clinical study funding.