ASO EyeWatch February 2020 edition

Message from the President Peter Sumich

Welcome back to the year and welcome to the new decade. It was a wonderful surprise to see Dr James Muecke AM announced as Australian of the Year, and we all know how well deserved he is of this honour. It was also positive to see our other colleagues Prof. Peter McCluskey AO and Dr David Workmam OAM receive Australia Day honours. Congratulations James, Peter and David.

The MBS review is still in limbo and we will notify members as soon as we have heard something. Behind the scenes, we have continued to be active with the Minister’s office, and they are aware of the issues. I remain quite confident that the minister has grasped the delicate balance of government savings vs clinical care.

I was disappointing to see the departure of Dr Richard Di Natale from the Greens. He has been a very sensible voice and received us warmly in Canberra. As a medical practitioner, he grasped the nuance of Medico political issues. We had done some work with his staff in Senate estimates to keep pressure on private health insurers which may be less of a priority to the new Greens leadership group.

Mr Andrew Wilkie the independent member from Tasmania recently tabled legislation to ban differential rebating. It didn’t see significant support from the major parties, but we encourage him to continue with this push and I will be meeting him to offer our assistance when the ASO team next visits Canberra.

Just finally a note on the ASO Expo midyear. We will have all the usual educational sessions but this year we will slant towards investment in startup businesses and assessing venture capital opportunities. Particularly how to pick the winners and losers, and how to use your cashflow as a multiplier for passive income.


Are you empowering your patients?

ASO will continue to be part of the patient empowerment movement and have worked in partnership with the AMA and a number of other medical and specialist representative groups on an informed financial consent guide for patients. The ASO has also developed a suite of patient information sheets to improve health literacy and better prepare and inform patients on their health journey. The media are constant critics of surgeon groups for perceived poor transparency and we hope these website resources are of use to our members and their patients.

Patient factsheets include:

  • My referral and what it means
  • Preparing for my appointment
  • Gaps and gap cover explained
  • Getting the most out of my private health insurance
  • Can I switch private health insurers?
  • Understanding my ophthalmologists’ fee
  • Feedback and complaints

All of these these factsheets are available to members on the ASO website here


In 2020 the ASO Business Skills Expo is ready to challenge. Our annual Expo is about delivering ophthalmologists the business boost they need. That means new thinking, better skills, great efficiency and improved patient engagement. Our Expo is the only Expo tailored specifically to the needs of ophthalmologists and their practice staff.

The Expo aims to address issues facing ophthalmologists in all stages of their professional career from new fellows, right through to senior surgeons looking to their exit strategy. We now offer delegates a number of breakout sessions so they can choose topics most relevant to their career stage.

The Expo sessions on offer range from financial inspiration with advice on investing in start ups and venture capital markets, and sharemarket 2020, changes in tax and super regulations, cyber security and ransomware insurance, digital marketing, insiders’ panel on medico-political issues and MBS updates to our popular physio therapy demonstrations and addressing mental-health issues including ‘Anxiety – the modern scourge – understanding it in yourself; your patients and your staff’

This year we are bringing back the ever-popular photo booth for professional portraits and a new theme this year providing a Practice Manager’s breakout session.

The Expo also provides plenty of networking opportunities at our Saturday evening cocktail hour and the Sunday Masterclass breakfast which will bring together an eclectic panel of experts working in the hospital and private healthcare space. The Masterclass is designed to deliver insights, share strategy and encourage out of the box thinking. There will be plenty to chew down on if you are a thinker or can see a role for yourself as an ophthalmology business leader in the future.

The Expo will be held again at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on Saturday 20 June and Sunday 21 June and is free to all ASO members! Mark this event in your diary as one not to be missed! Further details are available on the ASO website

Alternate investments to property

Looking for alternatives to property as an investment as part of your overall tax effective structuring?  Traditional investments that may be considered can include property and investments on “the share market” or high interest earning accounts. Like with any investment it’s important to make sure you have done your research, knowledge is key in any investment you are pursuing and knowing the income tax outcomes is one key consideration.

Invest in your staff

The new year is a good time to sit down and review your practice. A finely tuned Ophthalmic team, from front office to back, ensures your patients are receiving the highest quality of care. 

The ASO has teamed with Eye Learning to provide exclusive staff training discounts for ASO members.

Eye Learning launched their Ophthalmic Assistant online training course in 2014, in response to a shortage of trained ophthalmic clinical staff, and a need identified by many ophthalmologists for staff training and educational resources. Since their launch, Eye Learning has received an overwhelming response from eye clinics across Australia and New Zealand. Many clinics have provided positive feedback, and most clinics have reported an improved practice efficiency, through the use of ophthalmic assistants.

In 2017 Eye Learning developed their Ophthalmic Receptionist online training course after a need for more basic training for office staff was identified. This course has been extremely popular and many clinics have incorporated it into their induction process for all administrative staff.

Eye Learning continues to grow, and now has students worldwide including the UK and USA. Over 300 ophthalmic assistants and over 230 ophthalmic receptionists have been trained to date. Over 200 practices have used Eye Learning courses, with many practices enrolling multiple students.

Both courses have been updated numerous times, and will continue to be improved in alignment with ophthalmic assisting best practise.

A full outline of the subjects covered in each course can be found at

ASO members have a 30% discount on the Ophthalmic Assistant course, and a 20% discount on the Ophthalmic Receptionist course.

If you would like to enrol your staff, please email to apply your ASO discounts.

Free 12 month Membership for Trainees

ASO is offering 12 months FREE membership to all trainees – yes that means free access to our Expo, free business advice and resources, 12.5% discounted premium with MDA National and most importantly protection for your future patients and business. Click here to join online today.

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Resources for your Practice

The Federal Department of Health has developed resources for health professionals and their patients, including employers in addressing novel coronavirus. Information on their website is updated regularly so it is a good idea to keep checking for updates. View the Department’s resources here.

Are you doing your stretches?

At our Expo last year ASO members learnt the importance of keeping those well used neck and back muscles soft and flexible, which can be achieved through regular stretching exercises. The ASO along with our sponsor Change Health Solutions developed a stretching guide for ophthalmologists.

Print this out and hang it in your office as a handy reminder to do these stretches daily.

If you make them part of your lunch time routine your neck and back will thank you.

click here to download PDF

Films for Sight – The Call of the Wild

Village Cinemas Rivoli (200 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East)

Thursday 20 February 2020

Enjoy the private screening of short films produced by Sight For All highlighting the valuable sight-saving work undertaken in our Aboriginal communities and partner countries in Asia, followed by the feature film, The Call of the Wild.

Tickets are $30 per person and include refreshments, with all proceeds raised from the event going towards Sight For All’s sight-saving projects.

Visit the event page for details.

2020 Member Logo

We are pleased to offer all members the ASO 2020 membership logo for your website, email, letterhead ect.

Please download the logo here.

2 Minutes with…

Name: Dr James Muecke AM

Location: Adelaide

Sub-specialty/special interest area: Ocular oncology, medical retina

Tea or coffee? Coffee!

Savoury or sweet? Savory – anything from Peel Street Restaurant in Adelaide!

Noise or quiet? Noisy – I love loud live music!

Last book I read: Against All Odds – written by the Thai cave rescue heroes

What I’m listening to right now: The latest Lana Del Rey album

I’ve always wanted to try…Skydiving, although sadly it’s now too late

A great weekend is… lunch with friends at one of South Australia’s stunning wineries

I switch off from work by… listening to music, reading a good book, or taking photographs

Best piece of advice I’ve ever been given? Make the most of every day!

We look forward to profiling more of James’ story in our next ASO Bulletin print magazine.

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