COS 2018 Advocacy in Action (third quarter update)
National Advocacy Initiatives
See The Possibilities Campaign: COS continues to build on the success of Year Two of its public awareness campaign. The campaign narrative is gaining momentum and awareness, achieving great results:
- Year 2 Media Impressions Increased More than 50%: The Canadian Ophthalmological Society’s 2018 See The Possibilities campaign has generated widespread earned media success to-date, with more than 16.2 million media impressions, including 20 media hits in target publications, 14 interviews with key spokespeople and 19 press release pick-ups. Comparisons with the 2017 results show that, total impressions have increased by 54%, with more to come. From 2017 to 2018, the COS increased the number of available physician spokespeople by 438% – ensuring that a large number of candidates were available to facilitate media requests, with no media interviews missed. Thank you to all of our COS member physician spokespeople for their ongoing participation in this campaign.
- NEW Patient Video in French and English: COS’s fourth patient video testimonial features Dr. Hady Saheb‘s glaucoma patient, Mr. Geoffroy Gravel. Mr. Gravel was diagnosed with glaucoma with dangerously high pressures that stopped him from pursuing his passion for extreme sports. However, thanks to a medical intervention by his ophthalmologist, he has gotten his life back. You can view Geoffroy’s story here:
- COS Takes over CBC Morning Radio with 12 Syndicated interviews for Back-To-School: On August 14, 2018, the COS received its first syndicated interview request from CBC radio on the medical effects of blue light. A syndicated interview is when series of short interviews on a common topic are aired across the country at consecutive times. Dr. Christine Law explained why blue light damage is inconclusive from a medical perspective in 12 back-to-back interviews. These 12 interviews were aired on CBC Morning Radio across the country on August 15, 2018 between 0600h and 0900h, reaching over 1 million listeners. A spokesperson from Optometry was also interviewed separately on the topic.
- Social Media Influencers Publish Second Blog Posts: As follow-up to the A Day in the Life of an Ophthalmologist blog series, the second installments of our social media influencer blogs have been published:
- Looking Ahead to Year 3: On August 24, 2018, Dr. Phil Hooper, Chair of the Council, Jennifer Brunet-Colvey, Executive Director and CEO, Rosalind O’Connell, Manager, Communications and Public Affairs and Courtny Vaz, Coordinator, Communications and Public Affairs participated in an in-person strategic planning session with our public relations firms Cossette Health and The Colony Project to plan for Year 3 of the campaign. COS looks forward to sharing our Year 3 strategy, once the plan is finalized in November 2018.
Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) Council on Advocacy Updates:
On September 13, 2018 the COS Council on Advocacy held its fourth teleconference of the year to discuss common advocacy issues and develop strategies to deal with these issues at a provincial level. In addition to quarterly teleconferences, several Council members have been active on the following initiatives:
- On July 28/29, 2018, Dr. Andrew Budning, COS Liaison to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) attended AAO’s annual major advocacy meeting: the Secretariat for State Affairs meeting. The Secretariat is comprised of the AAO leaders in advocacy (about 35 in all) with the goal of updating everyone on US advocacy efforts and plans for the coming year. Dr. Budning presented many of COS advocacy initiatives, including the See The Possibilities campaign. The AAO were very impressed with the campaign (particularly the use of social media influencers), as well as all of COS’ advocacy work.
- On September 10, 2018, Dr. Ken Roberts, Provincial Physician Advocacy Representative for New Brunswick on the COS Council on Advocacy, submitted his abstract for his AAO Leadership Development Program Project. The purpose of the project was to determine how accessible Canadian ophthalmologists are as measured by driving time, distance travelled and catchment area. With increasing efforts for scope expansion by other non-MD health providers, lack of access is the most often cited reason to justify an increased scope of practice. Access to health care on First Nations reservations has had renewed interest and data on access to eye care is largely absent. The project concluded that nearly ninety per cent of Canadians are within a reasonable driving distance to medical eye care delivered by an Ophthalmologist. Three provinces were identified as having a high percentage of the population with high driving times to an ophthalmologist. Two of these provinces are large in area (Sk and N-Ont) and one is almost entirely comprised of small, remote fishing villages (NL). First Nations reservations were identified as having the longest travel time of any Canadian area, with more than two-thirds further than 1 hour away from the nearest ophthalmologist. This information will be useful for future advocacy discussions as well as resource planning on a national and provincial level.
- Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie Dotchin, Provincial Physician Advocacy Representative for Alberta on the COS Council on Advocacy, on her acceptance to the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology’s (PAAO) Leadership Development Program. COS looks forward to sharing further details of Dr. Dotchin’s advocacy project as it develops.
COS Completes Advocacy Toolkit Chapter 2: How to Work with Media: The COS Advocacy Toolkit – Chapter 2 – How to Work with Media is now available in the members only section of the COS website. This chapter contains information on how to work with the Canadian media, in conjunction with the COS Communications Team.
Advocacy & Media 101 Session Videos Now Online: Recordings from the May 31, 2018 Advocacy and Media 101 Session are now available on YouTube.com. If you would like to receive a link to these videos, please contact [email protected].
COS Advocacy and Public Awareness Fund reaches over 90% of fundraising goal for 2017/2018: Due to the strong support received from the membership, the COS was able to reach over 90% of its fundraising goal for 2017/18. Thank you to all who have supported the COS and our efforts by contributing to the Advocacy and Public Awareness Fund. Our work would not have been possible without your contributions.
2019 COS Advocacy and Public Awareness Fund: For the 2019 COS Advocacy and Public Awareness Fund campaign, COS members will notice that a minimum contribution of $700.00 will automatically be added as an “opt-in” option on this year’s COS Membership Renewal Forms. This is based on feedback from our members to streamline the process in order to make it easier to contribute. More details regarding how to contribute to the 2019 Fund will be sent out to the membership beginning in October 2018.
We encourage all members to consider supporting the Fund as the monies gathered, along with a significant investment from the COS, will be used to support the COS to continue its strong advocacy and public awareness work at a federal level and empowering the provinces, subspecialty societies, and academic community with advocacy tools, training, and resources to help raise the profile of the profession. Please contact Rita Afeltra at [email protected] if you would like to make a contribution.
Provincial Advocacy Activities
Please find below the latest updates from the COS and the provinces regarding advocacy and lobbying efforts.
- The British Columbia Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (BCSEPS) continues to seek recourse with regards to a provisional cataract fee code cut that was set to take effect on October 1.
- The BC MOH is set to start fining physicians doing private sector work starting October 1. Fines start at $10,000. BCSEPS will be seeking clarification on how this affects measuring for non-insured IOL’s which will be implanted during insured cataract surgeries.
- Dr. Jane Gardiner (CAPOS) worked with Perinatal Services BC to successfully maintain universal eye prophylaxis of all newborns in the Perinatal Services BC Guideline: Prevention and Management of Ophthalmia Neonatorum caused by Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
- In September 2018, Eye Physicians and Surgeons Association of Alberta (EPSAA) representatives met with Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) group to present them with an EPSAA position statement on higher level disinfection of ultrasound probes and ultrasonic pachymetry probes.
- On September 26, 2018 EPSAA representatives met with a policy advisor in the provincial Ministry of Health to discuss support for an eye health council in the province.
- In September 2018, a joint position paper between the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (EPSOM) and the Manitoba Association of Optometrists on legislating against scleral tattoos was submitted to the provincial government. EPSOM hopes to have MLAs present a bill for this legislation in October when legislature reconvenes. This paper was based on the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (EPSO) paper and EPSOM is very grateful for the work that EPSO has done.
- Following a meeting in June 2018 with the Deputy Minister of Health (DMOH) regarding cataract waitlist recommendations, EPSOM is continuing efforts to engage with the DMOH office to express concerns.
- EPSOM has been invited by the provincial government regarding Anti-VEGF injection program negotiations.
- In September 2018, the Eye Physicians and Surgeons (EPSO) met at Queens Park with ministers and their staff to discuss eye care in Ontario.
- With the recent change in provincial government, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the government have agreed to return to mediation. If this fails over the next 1-2 months binding arbitration will resume. The CANDI model continues to create many uncertainties for Ophthalmology, many relating to the difficulty in obtaining relevant data such as true overhead, after hours worked, and overall daily hours worked.
- There has been a great push to try to develop new hospital positions for young ophthalmologists with any new monies being provided by the government to tackle the growing cataract wait list. The goal is to distribute new funding fairly, primarily to new grads so that they will be able to work in the community providing general ophthalmology medical and surgical care, decreasing wait lists and help ensure emergency call availability remains 24/7. This project has been spearheaded by EPSO Past President Dr. Jordan Cheskes and has been endorsed by EPSO and the Vision Strategy Task Force of Ontario. The government is very interested in the project and EPSO is hopeful that it will be endorsed by hospitals and provide a number of new positions over the next 3-12 months.
- In August 2017 the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced that it had received direction to regulate diagnostic medical sonographers under The College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario (CMRTO), and the registration process began in January 2018. By January 2019 all individuals practicing as a diagnostic medical sonographer will be required to be registered as a member of the CMRTO in order to be authorized to practice diagnostic medical sonography in Ontario. Simply put, this means all diagnostic medical sonographers practicing in Ontario-or individuals currently participating in an education program for diagnostic medical sonography or preparing for an exam in the profession-will be required to register with the CMRTO. CMPA has agreed to write a legal opinion on the Bulletin for EPSO. It is likely that this will not apply to A scan performed for accurate cataract IOL placement. There is no mention of ophthalmology in the bulletin, so we are unclear on its effect on our group at present.
- EPSO has developed a new website (www.epso.ca) spearheaded by Marcia Kim, Executive Director. The portal allows for both public and secure access for our members to information.
- The Association des médecins ophtalmologistes du Québec (AMOQ) is evaluating the new political landscape following the election of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government on October 1, 2018.
- CAQ has proposed to cut the monetary mass by 20%; with perceived higher-paid specialties like Ophthalmology and Radiology being specifically targeted for higher fee cuts.
- In July 2018, Dr. Ken Roberts worked with the COS to profile the arrival of a new glaucoma surgeon, to local provincial reporters. Since the article published, there has been an increased number of media inquiries. For example, CBC has expressed interest in doing a video segment that highlights cataract surgery.
- An Eye Health Council in New Brunswick is defunct after lack of interest from Optometry, with and no plans to restart this at the moment.
- The New Brunswick Section of Ophthalmology meeting is planned for November 17, 2018 where advocacy items will be discussed.
Prince Edward Island
- In July 2018, COS worked with PEI Ophthalmology to submit comments regarding an expanded scope of practice for Optometry in the area of prescribing rights for oral antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and anti-allergics. With the help of COS letters were sent to the provincial antibiotic stewardship committee and Minister of Health.
- PEI continues to have manpower issues with long waits for consults and surgery, with PEI Ophthalmology working with the Health PEI on potential solutions.
- Two years ago, the formation of an Eye Health Council in PEI fell through because Optometry was unwilling to participate. Interestingly, the idea has been raised by Health PEI following recent letters on expanded scope of practice for Optometry. PEI Ophthalmology will continue to champion an eye health council in light of renewed interest from government.
For questions or more information
The COS Council on Advocacy looks forward to providing further updates on issues of importance to the profession in the next Advocacy in Action e-newsletter. In the meantime, for more information or questions, please contact: Rosalind O’Connell, COS Manager, Communications and Public Affairs at: [email protected]