ASO EyeWatch November 2019 edition

Why conversations are so important

“Can we talk?”
Joan Rivers (Joan Alexandra Molinsky), US comedienne (1933-2014), a stock phase from her TV network talk program, The Joan Rivers Show.

I want to tell you that I returned from RANZCO Congress buzzing, and for those members who know me well, that is quite an exceptional state. During my three days at the Convention Centre in Sydney I had conversations with ASO members from all over Australia.
Each one managed to deepen my understanding of what life for an ophthalmologist is like and exactly why we do what we do — the ASO, that is. 

It reminded me that a simple conversation, face to face, remains the most effective way to communicate. And that the value to be derived from a conversation is limitless.

Thank you to every member who stopped by the ASO table in the exhibition hall. And thank you to the non-ASO members who stopped by and promptly joined the ASO family!
Our pop-up photo booth created great activity and excitement at the table and our President’s clever idea to introduce the ASO dot on Congress lanyards this year was a definite conversation starter, and a huge help for us on the desk— thank you Peter, for always thinking outside the box.

Now, while I am reflecting on the many conversations I had, and, confident in knowing that we at the ASO are very “focused” on the MBS Review, please enjoy this Congress edition of EyeWatch.

Kerry Gallagher

Connecting at Congress

Congratulations to RANZCO on a wonderful Scientific Congress for 2019.

This year’s learning program was again second to none, providing the opportunity for ophthalmologists from around the country and abroad to share their expertise and research.

We’d like to thank every ASO member who made time to visit the ASO table in the exhibition hall. We can promise you that the feedback you gave us on our work as a Society – whether big or small — will translate into better support for all members.

We also thank all members who attended the ASO Advocacy & Practice Skills Workshop. The Workshop, held on Friday 8 November, received rave reviews from delegates. This year’s worskhop program covered finance, social media, staff performance in a practice, and medico-political lobbying. The fourth annual Andrew Stewart Memorial Lecture was delivered by former AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton.

Toowoomba ophthalmologist Dr Gilda Kert won the ASO Congress prize - a $1,000 travel voucher from Orbit World Travel
Winner of the lucky door prize - a $150 gourmet traveller restaurant gift card - pictured at our Cocktail event on Sunday evening was Dr Ilesh Patel (right) with Dr Hakki Semerli.
ASO staff Sarah, Katrina and Sandra at the ASO table

Cocktail hour

The first official ASO Cocktail event — proudly supported by Glaukos – was held on Sunday 10 November at The Sofitel Champagne Bar.

As dusk fell, guests gathered in this sumptuous setting to enjoy a view of the water, a drink or two, some good conversation and sample from a menu of perfectly curated canapés.

A highlight of the evening was a sabrage demonstration, executed perfectly by Champagne Bar Manager, Evan. Dating back to the post-battle celebrations of Napoleon and his French cavaliers in the late 1700s, ‘sabrage’ is the opening of a champagne bottle with a sword.

We can report that the crowd was suitably impressed and no one was harmed in the demonstration 😃

Click on a photo to begin viewing the gallery.

Financing medical equipment – What are the considerations?

Having a well-planned approach to purchasing new medical equipment can be critical to the growth and competitiveness of your practice.

It can also be an essential part of the practice and patient offering to upgrade existing equipment to ensure optimum diagnostic and surgical equipment is being utilised.

Read more

Michael Steiner awarded Bruce Shepherd Medal

Long time ASO member and ASO immediate past President, Dr Michael Steiner is one of 16 doctors who has been awarded a Bruce Shepherd Medal for excellence in independent medicine by the Australian Doctors Federation.

We congratulate Michael on this well deserved recognition of his contribution to ophthalmology in Australia.

Michael, a Sydney-based ophthalmologist, arrived in Australia at the age of two from Prague.

As the son of holocaust survivors, he understands what freedom means.
His medical career has included being a pioneer in the performance of laser vision corrective surgery since its inception in Australia in 1991.

Not content to be simply a member of his professional organisations, Michael has undertaken leadership positions with RANZCO as Honorary Secretary and President, as Chairman of his Medical Staff Council, as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Congress of Ophthalmology, and by making major contributions to the AMA at state and federal levels, including being President of the NSW Branch from 2010-2012. He is, of course, also past President of ASO.

Michael has dedicated his professional career to maintaining the highest standards of ophthalmic practice and protecting the independence of the doctor/patient relationship.

Social media and defamation
Is your practice at risk?

MDA National Medico Legal Counsel Deborah Jackson spoke to delegates at the recent ASO Advocacy & Practice Skills Workshop about social media and defamation risks for ophthalmologists. The session ended with Deborah fielding a range of questions from the audience, so we asked her to summarise her ‘take home’ messages on the topic for this edition of EyeWatch.

Navigating social media

If you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms in your practice you need to ensure you have a solid Social Media Policy. You should regularly review your sites and consider the following checklist for potential risks:

  • Am I breaching patient confidentiality?
  • Am I compliant with AHPRA guidelines?

Assess whether there are boundary risks:

  • Is what I am doing solely in the interests of the patient?
  • Is what I am doing gratuitous (not what the patient has asked for or consented to?)
  • Would I be happy to share what I am doing with my colleagues?
  • Am I revealing too much about myself or my family?

The Medical Board of Australia’s Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia sets out the principles expected of all doctors registered in Australia. Section 3.4 Confidentiality and Privacy outlines the standard by which your behaviour will be assessed:

‘3.4.5 Ensuring your use of social media is consistent with your ethical and legal obligations to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.’’

TIP: It is useful to have your practice website reviewed by your Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) to ensure that you are not breaching AHPRA Advertising Guidelines (s133 of the National Law), Privacy Law and regulations, and the Code of Conduct.

It is not uncommon for an advertising agency, your Practice Manager, or other staff to prepare or co-ordinate advertising for your practice. However, you have the responsibility to ensure that your website is compliant.

Use of emails

Ensure that you have a written policy stating:

  • What information can be sent by email
  • What is appropriate to send or request
  • Essential to obtain patient’s written consent
  • Record messages in the patient’s medical records
  • Who is responsible for monitoring messages?
  • Use of professional language not emoticon or word abbreviations
  • Ensure IT security safeguards are in place
  • Consider encrypting emails
  • Advise the patient they can opt out
  • Must notify the practice of change of email address or phone number
  • Ensure the use of txt and emails is noted in the practices privacy policy

Managing negative reviews

The worst thing you can do is to respond to a vitriolic review in kind. It is sometimes best to maintain a dignified silence. Before you post a review in response, it is essential to seek advice from your MDO.

If you want a review removed look at the Terms of Service (TOS) of the platform where the review appears. If you mirror the language in the TOS, you are more likely to have your request for removal taken seriously.

The main downside to a written request is services such as “Lumen” which ‘collects and analyses legal complaints and requests for removal of online materials’.  Inappropriate language or disparaging the person who made the review is likely to generate more negative reviews and you could end up with a complaint.


It is important to be aware that some things that are said and written, even unintentionally, can result in you being sued for defamation. Defamation law attempts to balance freedom of speech with the need to protect the reputation and/or privacy of the individual.

Defamation occurs where one person communicates by words, photographs, video, illustrations or other means material which has the effect or tendency of damaging the reputation of another.

Defamation as a legal remedy to negative social media reviews has gained more traction recently due to high profile cases. It is extremely expensive and very public.

Some defences to defamation applicable to on-line reviews are:

  • Truth, justification — which applies when the comments in question are true or substantially true. There are practical problems involved in proving the truth of a statement in court. You may, for example, need persuasive and authentic documents to provide this or have witnesses who can and will give evidence of the truth of your statement.
  • Honest opinion or fair comment — the comment must be fair, and the opinion be held honestly. Must be made without malice and must be the opinion of the defendant (rather than a statement of fact) which is based on proper material.

Negative reviews are very distressing but sometimes it is really better to maintain a dignified silence and focus on the thousands of patients who are very happy with your care.

Deborah Jackson
Medico Legal Counsel
MDA National

6 clever gift ideas for your practice staff this Christmas

Desk aesthetics - A beautiful bonsai

The non-seasonal plant that will brighten any work desk/reception desk. Check out The Bonsai Shop.
Link to website.

For coffee lovers - Hand held coffee maker

This one from Mountain Designs retails for $59.99
Link to website.

Pamper voucher

A gift voucher to a local spa or beauty outlet will leave your staff feeling loved.

The eyes have it - sunglasses gift card

The gift of eye protection…various sunglasses outlets have gift cards available such as Quay Australia
Link to website.

Cheese anyone - Personalised cheese board

A personalised gift is always a winner and a stylish cheese board for entertaining will never go unused. We found this one for $69.99 at Hardtofind
Link to website.

Wine & Chocolate - Gift basket

The ultimate combination…we found this range of gift baskets at
Link to website.

The boost your practice needs

Behind every successful ophthalmologist is a team of highly trained practice staff.

Are your staff accessing the training they need?

Thanks to our partnership with established online training provider Eye Learning, ASO members have exclusive access to training courses for ophthalmic assistants and ophthalmic receptionists at a discounted rate.

Click here to open flyer.

Are you looking to sell your practice?

We are happy to advertise member practices that are up for sale in EyeWatch.

Simply email us the wording you would like to include in your listing and we will develop an ad, then send it to you for approval.

Send your listing details to: and we’ll be in touch.

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