Using health policy to advocate for patients

April 25, 2014

Glaucoma specialists can be advocates for their patients on a number of levels. On a daily basis, ophthalmologists help overcome barriers to treatment and offer solutions to patients for instilling medications, involving family members in their care, organizing services for patients, and providing educational materials, said Cynthia Mattox, MD, New England Eye Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.

Boston-Glaucoma specialists can be advocates for their patients on a number of levels. On a daily basis, ophthalmologists help overcome barriers to treatment and offer solutions to patients for instilling medications, involving family members in their care, organizing services for patients, and providing educational materials, said Cynthia Mattox, MD.

Advocating for pharmacy and surgeries is probably one of the most important interventions, with physicians lobbying for coverage or access. Physicians also lobby for insurance coverage for individual patients as well as provide free care on a regular basis, said Dr. Mattox during Glaucoma Day at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Physicians are also involved in conducting research to advance the understanding and treatment of glaucoma, as well as participating in national, international, and multinational organizations, and mission service to aid their patients, explained Dr. Mattox, New England Eye Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.

 

When advocating for patients on a national level, Dr. Mattox provided tips when handling government and health policy. She advised that ophthalmologists learn and understand the structure of the organization they are dealing with, bring issues to light, and find willing allies (even patients) who can aid the cause.

In addition, she noted that serendipity can work magic. Happening to meet an individual who has been touched personally by glaucoma can also help move toward the goal. Anticipating consequences during the planning stages can help avoid wasting time when dealing with various agencies.

Finally, persistence can result in policy change, but this requires diligence and determination, she noted.

“Ophthalmologists-with their unique perspective and bridge between patient care and health policy-can become effective advocators for their patients,” Dr. Mattox said.

For more articles in this issue of Ophthalmology Times’ Conference Brief, click here.