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Certification ATPO / CSOMP In The News


JCAHPO Certification Myths

Don’t believe everything you hear! JCAHPO certification is obtainable and affordable! These are just a few myths we’ve heard throughout the years…

MYTH: I am not qualified to be JCAHPO certified.
JCAHPO’s ladder of certification success begins with the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA®). Candidates who have been employed for 1,000 hours within the last 12 months in the field of ophthalmology; purchase and pass a JCAHPO approved independent study course; complete the examination application and submit with appropriate payment can sit for the COA examination.

MYTH: Certification of the Eye Care Team is not important.
Four out of five ophthalmologists agree that certified ophthalmic medical personnel (OMP) make their practice more productive. JCAHPO research shows that ophthalmologists value certification and the importance of employing educated, trained, and qualified professionals because they see certified OMPs as more competent; knowledgeable and skilled; see more patients per hour; are able to troubleshoot and detect errors; and are superior at triage screening.  (Also see the article on the CMS ruling regarding CERTIFIED personnel entering CPOE!)

MYTH: JCAHPO certification exams are too difficult.  
The average pass rate for JCAHPO’s core examinations COA, COT®, and COMT® is over 70%!

MYTH: JCAHPO certification examinations and study materials are too expensive.
Examination fees have not increased in several years and JCAHPO provides on-going discount examination and study packages throughout the year.  JCAHPO also offers coupons which significantly discount the cost of the certification examinations. Visit with the JCAHPO staff at regional meetings and in the JCAHPO certification booth on the tradeshow floor at ASCRS or AAO for more information on discount packages, or call us at 800/284-3937, option #1.

MYTH: Examinations are only given at specific times.
All of JCAHPO’s examinations (with the exception of the COMT Performance Test) are provided through Pearson VUE test centers. Test centers are located throughout the United States, Canada, and select locations internationally. Examinations are provided seven days a week based on the specific test centers’ hours of operation. Reserve your appointment at your own convenience.

MYTH: Continuing education credits are too expensive.
Obtaining credits is easy and affordable on EyeCareCE™. The majority of courses on EyeCareCE are $10.00 and credits can be earned in numerous areas from basic to specialized areas of ophthalmology.

Weekly Webinars are available for only $18.00 and offer a short, online quiz where you can earn CE Credit(s).

Regional CE Programs are offered all over the country and are very affordable! A one-day CE Program typically offers
7 or 8 CE Credits.

The Annual Continuing Education Program offers the opportunity to earn more than 20 CE Credits over 3 ½ days and prices out less than $12 per credit, if taking a full schedule.

MYTH: If I certify my ophthalmic assistants, they will leave my practice and go someplace else to work.
All JCAHPO’s research, ATPO’s Salary & Benefits Study, and anecdotal comments from certificants show that once the ophthalmic medical personnel (OMP) are certified, they stay at that practice longer than if their employer does not support them in their certification. The average number of years of a certified OMP with their current employer is:  8.7 years (COA); 11.3 years (COT); and 11.7 years (COMT)..

Take the initiative and become a part of the global JCAHPO certified team!  Obtaining JCAHPO certification demonstrates to your peers and superiors that you are committed to your profession and have achieved the level of knowledge and experience needed to include the COA, COT, or COMT credential behind your name.

CMS Agrees that JCAHPO Certificants - COA, COT, COMT- Can Enter CPOE Orders for Meaningful Use 2

JCAHPO has received numerous inquiries from ophthalmologists, clinic administrators, and technicians asking about the CMS Rule regarding CERTIFIED professionals and which staff members are allowed to enter medication or laboratory orders under the CMS EHR Incentive Program for Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) meaningful use. 

Please be cautious - we encourage you to be fully informed on what meets the certification criteria! 

To clarify the Ruling: 
1) Staff members must perform similar functions to medical assistants, but they may have more specific titles (such as Ophthalmic Assistant) – so a person employed in the clinic responsible for the front desk, managing the clinic, or scribing, who does not perform any ophthalmic assisting work, does not meet the Rule criteria.

For more than 30 years, JCAHPO has been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and our three core certifications meet the CMS Rule criteria: Certified Ophthalmic Assistants (COA), Certified Ophthalmic Technicians (COT), and Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologists (COMT).

The answer is No. First, scribes do not function as an “ophthalmic medical assistant”. Second, The Joint Commission that accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs in the United States has made clear that they support the CMS Rule which does not recognize scribes being utilized to enter CPOE orders. In a recent press release  by The Joint Commission,  - they published the following Q & A:  

QUESTION: Can scribes enter orders for physicians and practitioners?

ANSWER:  The Joint Commission does not support scribes being utilized to enter orders for physicians or practitioners due to the additional risk added to the process.

There are other “certification” credentials in the ophthalmic field; however, they do not necessarily meet the CMS Rule criteria as the credential and organization are not accredited and/or the position does not perform ophthalmic assisting functions.

Program requirements as confirmed by this response from CMS to JCAHPO and other organizations' questions: On May 13, 2014, Elisabeth Myers, the Policy and Outreach Lead at the CMS Office of eHealth Standards and Services, responded to questions about the EHR program. Specifically, Myers responded to a question regarding the certifications offered by JCAHPO:

QUESTION: Do the designations of Certified Ophthalmic Technologist, Certified Ophthalmic Assistant and Certified Ophthalmic Technician count as certified medical assistants able to enter orders into the EHR?

ANSWER: Yes, they count if they are the [sic] equivalent of a CMA. We don't specify every single variation on Medical Assistant because if we made a list and left someone out it would cause a problem. Instead we specify that: 1) The job title doesn't have to be "Medical Assistant" and 2) They don't have to be certified by AAMA we just use the AAMA definition of what 'certified' means which is certified by an accredited credentialing body outside the organization employing the MA.


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