Earlier this year, Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA) welcomed James Kirchner, OD, to the newly created position of Executive Consultant for State and Professional Relations. In this role, Dr. Kirchner serves as the primary practitioner liaison between HEA and professional organizations.
“The charge that I’ve been given is to nurture HEA’s already-strong relationships with many professional organizations serving the independent eye care profession, as well as to broaden HEA’s ties with additional organizations,” he says. The reason is fairly obvious. That’s where the strength and the drive for future legislative initiatives lie. “Professional organizations, including state professional associations, represent the vast majority of independents in each state. These organizations are ambassadors of a good, healthy, independent eye care community because they are comprised of and represented by strong, focused independent eye care professionals (IECPs),” and, “HEA’s support of professional organizations helps the entire independent eye care profession move forward,” he says.
“For the past four decades, we have seen the legislative initiatives driven by organized eye care bring us to the scope and prestige that we now enjoy,” Dr. Kirchner says. Scope of practice law enhancements and getting a seat at the table in health and public health discussions are just some of those. “I am excited about where we are going; legislatively, we must be ready to advocate that IECPs will have the authority to incorporate new technologies into their practices,” he says.
HEA has a strong role to play because it consolidates and brings forward the best strategies for practice growth. That support allows independents to succeed and flourish in their own practices and to bring in new technologies that can help improve their patients’ vision and ocular health. Then in turn, these successful IECPs who are practicing at the highest levels can become stronger advocates for what the profession brings to health care in this country.
Dr. Kirchner stepped into the role quickly, as he began to showcase HEA’s contributions to the future of eye care. At Optometry’s Meeting, Dr. Kirchner and Lorie Lippiatt, OD, spoke about HEA’s founding sponsorship of the Optometry Cares Healthy Eyes Healthy Children grant program, designed to fund programs across the U.S. that improve children’s access to eye care.
“Just as HEA helps individual IECPs realize the pathways to their practice success, we can also support organizations that are working on pathways to improve the profession,” Dr. Kirchner says. “Bringing all of the resources and tools for these solution pathways under one umbrella is unique in the industry, and HEA’s longtime dedication to working with professional organizations in a coordinated and supportive way is a healthy strategy for everyone,” he says.
HEA Chairman and CEO Jim McGrann says that bringing Dr. Kirchner into this role builds on HEA’s already active support. “We are proud to partner with 18 state professional associations and have contributed more than $12 million in support to these partners to date. We work continuously to add value to these relationships and look forward to forming new affiliations as well.”
Dr. Kirchner practiced independent optometry for more than 30 years in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was the recipient of both the Nebraska OD of the Year Award and the Nebraska Distinguished Service Award. He is a Past President of the Nebraska Optometric Association and the North Central States Optometric Council, a 10-state regional optometric association. Additionally, he served on the Nebraska Board of Optometry, which he chaired for four years.
An active voice in the American Optometric Association (AOA), Dr. Kirchner served as chair of the AOA’s Communications Group Executive Committee for five years. He also chaired the AOA’s Vision USA committee, in addition to numerous other AOA committees and task forces. Dr. Kirchner has spent the past nine years on the business side of the optical industry, most recently as president and CEO of SynergEyes, Inc.
HEA Partners With 18 State Associations
- Arizona Optometric Association
- Arkansas Optometric Association
- California Optometric Association
- Colorado Optometric Association
- Connecticut Association of Optometrists
- Delaware Optometric Association
- Florida Optometric Association
- Georgia Optometric Association
- Optometry Association of Louisiana
- Maine Optometric Association
- Maryland Optometric Association
- Mississippi Optometric Association
- New Hampshire Optometric Association
- New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians
- New York State Optometric Association
- Pennsylvania Optometric Association
- Vermont Optometric Association
- Virginia Optometric Association