Opening Lines

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Richard J. Kolker, MD’s publication is a resource for trainers and new techs

By Zack Tertel, Senior Editor

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) recently released “Subjective Refraction and Prescribing Glasses, The Number One (or Number Two) Guide to Practical Techniques and Principles” penned by Richard J. Kolker, MD.

Richard J. Kolker, MD

The publication, intended for teachers and students of refractometry, acts as a guide to methods of subjective refraction, including plus and minus cylinder methods and the Jackson cross cylinder, from a technical and interpersonal perspective. In addition, Dr. Kolker discusses various types of refractive errors and corrective lenses and shares his personal tips on working through a variety of patient concerns and personalities. Other features include an appendix on using a lensmeter, a retinoscopy primer, and Q&A case studies.

Dr. Kolker is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and has won several awards for his work there, including the Wilmer Resident Teaching Award, the Wilmer Medical Student Teaching Award, and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Best Course of Year Award.

Recently, the board of directors of the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology reviewed the book, calling it “a great resource for trainers and new techs.”

For more information on this publication and to order it, visit

Finding My Calling


My parents owned a medical laboratory when I was growing up, and my first job was working at the front desk. In college, I earned a degree in art but found it difficult to make a living. With my experience working in the lab, I sought to enter the medical field.

I answered an ad that read “Medical Assistant: Will Train,” and before I knew it I was an ophthalmic assistant. I trained on the job as a scribe, visual field tech, surgical tech, and ophthalmic assistant. It wasn’t long before I was fully enthralled with this field. Early on I set a goal of one day becoming a COMT. After 13 years, I became a practice administrator and eventually a COMT.

As part of my job, I interviewed and hired technicians. I was shocked at the lack of training and poor skills of many of the technicians I interviewed — even those who had many years of experience. This experience demonstrated to me the great need for ophthalmic training. So, in 2011, I started my own business, Eye Tech Training, to fill that need.

In the past five years, I have trained thousands of ophthalmic assistants throughout the United States. I teach COA and COT exam prep courses and conduct in-office training, technician skills assessments, and office flow evaluation. I have written two books and designed a pupil gauge. Recently I partnered with JCAHPO to host my COA and COT exam prep courses (

I am blessed to have found this career and even more blessed by the thousands of medical assistants I have helped with their professional development.


PASS portal system eases the burden of prescription PAs for practices — at no charge

By Zack Tertel, Senior Editor

Physicians and their staff spend 4.6 hours per week on average fulfilling requirements for patient prescription prior authorizations (PAs), according to a Drug Topics/Modern Medicine survey. This process includes identifying what medications the patient’s insurance plan covers, locating, completing, and submitting the PA form, and following up with the insurer (as detailed in our January/February article, “When the pharmacy calls []).

With the PARx Solutions Prior Authorization Support System (PASS), PA hassles can be minimized for ophthalmology practices.

The PASS service is a web-based, password-protected portal that can manage PAs from “virtually all managed care plans,” according to Dan Rubin, president and CEO, PARx Solutions, Inc. “The process of completing PA forms is simple and efficient, regardless of the plan or medication.”

After the practice submits the PA, the PASS software automatically transcribes the information into the appropriate format for each specific plan. Completing a PA request with PASS takes only three to five minutes, while many offices may spend 45 to 60 minutes on a PA with traditional methods, Mr. Rubin says. After receiving the PA, PARx’s staff of pharmacy techs, nurses, and reimbursement specialists manages the process on behalf of the practice.

“This helps ensure an accurate and complete PA submission, saves the practice from frustrating telephone calls with managed care plans, and, ultimately, leads to higher PA approval rates,” Mr. Rubin says, adding that these high rates increase the likelihood that patients receive the appropriate medication that the physician prescribes.

The PASS system is free of charge for physician practices — manufacturers of the available products sponsor the service. PASS, currently used by about 6,000 ophthalmologists and nearly 5,000 optometrists, offers 20 common ophthalmic medications, which Mr. Rubin says represents a high percentage of ophthalmic prescriptions that require a PA. And, he expects this list of sponsored products to continue to grow.

For more information and to sign up for PASS, visit, or call 1-866-725-7279.

In Brief

OWL appoints new officers

OWL, a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing ophthalmic innovation and patient care, has appointed the following members of its executive team: Heather Ready, president; Georgette Pascale, vice president/president-elect; Beth Marsh, vice president; and Maureen Tipp, CPA, COE, as secretary/treasurer. Marsha Link, PhD, will remain on the board as immediate past president. Ms. Ready is senior marketing manager at Abbott Medical Optics. Prior to this position, she was vice president of marketing at AcuFocus. She has held leadership positions at USGI, VISX, Baxter, and American Hospital Supply. Ms. Pascale, president of Pascale Communications, has been named to PharmaVoice’s list of “100 of the Most Inspiring People.” The National Association of Professional Women has named her “Woman of the Year.” Ms. Marsh is principal of BAM Consulting. Prior to starting her own consulting practice, she was a key initial team member in four ophthalmic start-up organizations. Ms. Tipp is an independent medical practice consultant specializing in finance and operations solutions. From 2000 to 2015, she served as CEO of NW Eye Surgeons, Seattle, WA.

Dr. Tabin receives Biosyntrx Thornton Humanitarian Award

Geoff Tabin, MD, co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project, received the 2016 Biosyntrx Thornton Humanitarian Award at the annual Hawaiian Eye Foundation event. Dr. Tabin is co-director of the John A. Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Through the Himalayan Cataract Project, doctors have performed more than 445,000 cataract surgeries in the developing world, according to the organization. Winners of the Biosyntrx Thornton Humanitarian Award receive a cash prize, which is divided between the award winner, his or her nonprofit organization, and the Hawaiian Eye Foundation.

TearScience sales spiked in 2015

TearScience reported 35% sales growth year over year. The growth was highlighted by a doubling of practices that purchased the company’s diagnostic and treatment devices for meibomian gland disease and dry eye in 2015. In addition, 60% more patients were treated with these devices, which includes LipiView and LipiFlow. Under recently appointed CEO Joseph Boorady, TearScience announced a 50% price reduction for disposable activators used during treatments.

Delk appointed public affairs director

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) announced that Wade Delk has been appointed as the executive director of the Center for Organizational Management (CFOM), an association management company (AMC), and as JCAHPO’s director of public affairs.