COS Advocacy in Action Update (January 1st 2017 – August 15th, 2017)
Dear COS Member,
On behalf of Dr. Phil Hooper, Chair of the COS Council on Advocacy, we wanted to provide you with an update on some of our recent Advocacy and Communications efforts. We will continue to keep you updated on our work in these important areas.
Manitoba ophthalmologists form the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (EPSOM): Motivated to create a more formal advocacy infrastructure in Manitoba, on March 18th, 2017, the provincial section of ophthalmology began the process of formalizing themselves as the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (EPSOM). EPSOM will be working on behalf of patients and ophthalmologists to help guide discussions on eye health in the province. Chaired by Dr. Jennifer Rahman, EPSOM has already begun advocating on a regional level, most recently commenting on media stories involving the proposed closure of the Misericordia Urgent Eye Care Centre in Winnipeg.
COS continues to support the creation of provincial Eye Health Councils: On March 17th, 2017, Dr. Guy Boswall and Dr. Jerry O’Hanley met with PEI Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Kim Critchley, to discuss the creation of an eye health council – or similar interprofessional working group – in that province. Dr. Boswall and Dr. O’Hanley are currently working with the DMOH’s office on Terms of Reference. In Alberta, the Eye Physicians and Surgeons Association of Alberta (EPSAA) and the College of Opticians of Alberta is liaising with the provincial government, based on their interest in setting up an eye health council.
COS forms Comprehensive Vision Rehabilitation (CVR) Working Group: On March 24th, 2017, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society convened a meeting, facilitated by Dr. Bruce Jackson, of ophthalmologists and scientists from British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the Comprehensive Vision Rehabilitation (CVR) programs in each of their respective provinces. The goal of this meeting was to develop recommendations for comprehensive vision rehabilitation in Canada. Currently, Dr. Mark Bona (Chair) and the CVR working group are reviewing draft recommendations based on the following items discussed at the meeting: number of ophthalmologists providing CVR, physician education, physician resources and the current CVR landscape in Canada.
COS launches its first-ever public awareness campaign for ophthalmology: On Tuesday, May 9th, 2017, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society launched its first public awareness campaign, See the Possibilities/ Voir les Possibilités, in honour of National Vision Health Month (May). The goal of this three-year campaign is to help educate Canadians about eye health and the important role ophthalmologists play in eye health care. The COS has identified a need to improve public, government, healthcare professional and other stakeholder awareness of the unique skills and training of ophthalmology and the importance of the specialty to the eye health of Canadians. Through a series of videos and personal patient stories, the COS will show Canadians first-hand the transformative effect ophthalmologists have on the lives of their patients and encourage Canadians to share their own eye health experiences. A second patient video featuring an adult strabismus patient will be launched in the Fall. The results have been impressive to date, and an update on the campaign metrics will be provided to all of our members in early September.
The success of this campaign relies on compelling patient stories which resonate with media. If you have a patient within your practice whom you think would be a candidate to educate other Canadians about their eye health disease or condition, please contact [email protected]. For more information about the campaign, please visit www.seethepossibilities.ca or www.voirlespossibilites.ca to learn more.
COS partners with the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) on Eye Sun Awareness: On June 8th, 2017, the COS officially launched The Sunglasses Project, in partnership with the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA). The objective of the campaign is to help educate Canadians about the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun’s rays on the eyes and the skin around the eyes. The COS and the CDA hope that through this campaign, every Canadian will become aware of the eye health risks associated with UVR exposure and take steps to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones. The message is simple: When outside, protect your eyes. The announcement was timed to coincide with Sun Awareness Week (w/o June 5th), a time when consumers and the media take a particular interest in sun protection in advance of the warmer summer months. The campaign is also a pre-cursor to the formal launch of the COS/CDA Product Recognition program in Fall 2017. For more information, please visit: www.thesunglassesproject.ca
COS holds its first formal Council on Advocacy meeting: On June 15th, 2017, the COS held its first formal Council on Advocacy meeting at the 2017 COS Annual Meeting and Exhibition. This meeting, chaired by Dr. Phil Hooper, brought together representatives from across the country to discuss advocacy issues facing the profession of ophthalmology, with the goal of taking a more proactive approach. Currently, the Council is informing the creation of an Advocacy Toolkit which will work as a guide for each province. This toolkit will be completed and disseminated in the Fall of 2017.
COS continues to build relationships with government and regulatory bodies and other stakeholders:
- On June 21st, 2017, the COS sent a congratulatory letter to MP Andrew Scheer, the new Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Official Leader of the Opposition. The COS will be setting up meetings with his office, along with other key members of government, when Parliament is back in session.
- On July 19th, 2017, the COS convened a call with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) and the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) to discuss the current fluorescein sodium shortage. At the request of Health Canada and the Provincial Drug Shortages Task Force, COS submitted a joint response from COS, CAEP and CAO, with key recommendations on how to manage this current shortage. A copy of the letter can be requested by emailing: [email protected]
- In September 2017, the COS plans to soft-launch a diabetic retinopathy (DR) patient brochure through the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) to all of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The brochure was designed to encourage Ontarians living with diabetes to get screened for DR. Currently, it’s estimated that approximately 400,000 diabetes patients in the province have never been screened. The patient brochure is endorsed by the Canadian Retina Society (CRS), Diabetes Canada (DC), the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (EPSO). A second phase of this project will include a CME for family physicians around diagnosing, referring and encouraging on-going monitoring of diabetes patients.
- The COS continues to collaborate with the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) to develop a Joint Position Statement on Computer Screen Time in Children. Also, the COS is continuing to work on the Joint Clinical Practice Guideline on the Periodic Eye Examination in Canada with the Canadian Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (CAPOS), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) on the Expert Committee that is co-chaired by the COS and the CAO. Phase I is focusing on children aged 0-5 years.
COS in the News: In response to recent articles about physician billing practices, COS President Dr. Guillermo Rocha was featured in the Winnipeg Free Press offering comprehensive insights into physician billings from an ophthalmology perspective.
For the second consecutive year, the COS Annual Meeting welcomed Accessible Media INC (AMI). AMI Media is a not-for-profit multimedia organization serving more than five million Canadians who are blind, partially sighted, hearing impaired, mobility or print restricted. They conducted 12 onsite interviews, as well as captured footage of the surgical skills transfer courses (STCs) and promoted the COS national See The Possibilities campaign. Click here to watch the full segment.
To view these articles and other recent COS media coverage, please visit: www.cos-sco.ca/advocacy-news/cos-in-the-news/
Dr. Phil Hooper MD, FRCS(C)
Chair, COS Council on Advocacy
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, COS