Myself and 11 other colleagues from across Canada were recently invited to take part in an optometry advisory board meeting put on by Alcon Pharmaceuticals in Ottawa. The weekend also coincided with the annual Ontario Association of Optometrists conference. The aim of the meeting was to determine how pharmaceutical companies like Alcon could better utilize their resources when communicating with optometrists across Canada. Plus what areas needed addressing, both from a product side and distribution side to further enhance both the physician and patient relationship.
The primary concern voiced by most doctors was that R&D (research and development) had to be the primary focus for pharmaceutical companies. Optometrists on a whole would like to see newer, more effective and safer treatment options for patients. I would also like to see pharmaceutical companies expand their research into preventative products that would allow patients to take control of their own health care earlier on. Interestingly enough, Alcon Pharmaceuticals is already one of the world leaders in regards to pharmaceutical research, spending millions annually.
Expanded continuing education was also a primary area of focus, with doctors wishing to see increased real world education at the post-secondary level as well as at the local association level. Optometrists also voiced wanting to receive information through multiple forms of media: print, online, video, webinars, peer-to-peer classroom education and through local representatives.
One of many positive consensus that emerged from the meeting was that the traditional battle lines between optometry and ophthalmology are slowly starting to erode away across the country, with the two professions starting to work much closer in helping to manage and treat patients. These co-management situations are most prevalent in the areas of glaucoma, cataract surgery, diabetes, dry eye syndrome, age-related macular degeneration and emergency eye care.
In the end, I think both the eye doctors involved and the executive team from Alcon, were able to take away some good ideas. I look forward over the next few months and years to seeing how some of the suggestions and ideas voiced will be implemented.
From a tourist standpoint: I have to admit I packed a lot into my short 48hr whirlwind trip from Edmonton to Ottawa. I woke up early for a run down the Rideau Canal, I took a tour of the Supreme Court of Canada, went to the top of the Peace Tower and sat through question period at the House of Commons. I also enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a local fish and chips place in ByWard Market and enjoyed a beer at the Zoe’s Lounge at the Fairmount Chateau Laurier.