Talking with Nationwide leaders at Vision Expo was like watching lightening strike and light up the landscape hidden by the dark of night! We left excited about the future for private practice and here is why:
Private practice optometrists accross the country are joining in groups to foster access to medical and routine optical care and both are TIED Together!
To be of value to the newly forming medical entities you must be able to provide medical optometric care and be involved in the patients whole health care, especially diabetes! I had the opportunity to speak to optometric visionary, Dr Richard Hom. Dr Hom has been at the forefront of the medical optometry experiment, watching creative attempts at delivery. In his opinion and that of others I spoke to here is what it will look like soon:
Optometrists will be providing extended care and testing for diabetics. This will mean some special certifications allowing ODs to monitor blood work and get involved in educating the patient, patient engagement. Our ability to monitor both the fundus images, blood levels and body mass place us right were doctors need to be to prevent the financial meltdown the country fears. It also makes us the key to ACO profitability by working with OMDs and PCPs in the new EHR linked “group.”
Two things are needed: You must be available in emergencies and you must be in a network that can help the ACO. Mall locations and stores with limited hours will be almost certainly excluded. As we talk, the NYOIPA is working with 4 nascent groups, under our umbrella, that hope to carve up the care for the greater NY Area! It is and exciting future and a tri-state coalition is in the planning too!
What Do ACOs and PCMHs look for? As Steve Rubinstein, who also met with Dr Hom at Vision Expo said: “Dr. Hom told me, if you mention ocular to the new medical entities, they will get bored! Then Dr Hom had me repeat it to him. That’s how important this paradigm shift is to the future of medical eye care! They are not interested in the trivial cost of vision care. The savings we can offer and the only interest they have in use is in systemic disease! Think about it for a moment. If your exam detects hardening of the arteries, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, preventing blindness will save money for sure. Preventing a stroke, heart attack or diabetic health catastrophe is big savings. This is how optometry becomes valuable to the new medical entities. When I was a student in optometry school, the pathology professor said, “the examination of the human eye is the single most informative test other than an autopsy. In which case it is bit late!” Perhaps these words have even greater impact today.
Vision Care And Eye Wear – The Health Care Connection: Here too the future is sparkling as the connection between medical entities and their patients will hugely benefit by the routine care we provide for patients age 15 – 35. Guess why?
These patients don’t come to PCP offices because they are busy and believe they are healthy. In reality they are those about to become diabetic, hypertensive, atherosclerosic and worse! They are the soon to be high risk group that will have strokes, heart attacks and become diabetic with 1 out of every 3 odds!
How can an ACO or PCMH engage these patients in preventive care and so keep them healthy and the ACO profitable? The answer is private practice optometry! These patients do come and see US, Optometrists! They come for blurred vision and we, should be detecting the early signs of these issues and sending them away with information and involvement! The future of Optometry is in acting like doctors and not retail store eye care salesman. By getting fully involved in patient care and monitoring, while communicating with the PCPS, we can make the ACO or PCMH profitable.
What should our focus be? Change! Because private practice doctors can be available for emergency medical care, we are positioned to play the medical role. If you are located in a mall that closes at a given hour, you are likely shut out of the mall and so the medical care!
IPAs accross America are seeing the opportunity to organize and design our network of practices to provide this care through the Team Work of IPAs and creative leadership. The legal description of Optometric Practice will be growing to encompass this goal. The teamwork of Optometry, RNs and other health care professionals needs to be expanding. Think outside the Mall! Think Private Practice!