By Michael J. Stamos, MD
Fresh on the heels of a highly successful annual meeting in Phoenix, ASCRS is poised to make great strides. However, unprecedented changes in our professional lives due to the Affordable Care Act and other legislative actions are currently threatening the status quo and affecting us directly on a daily basis. While change is always anxiety provoking, the pace of change in the current environment is unprecedented. It will take a constant focus from each of us and a collective will to "move the needle."
Fortunately, our Society is rich with volunteerism. Since returning to my home from the meeting in Phoenix, I have been busy surveying the landscape of our Society and making numerous phone calls and sending numerous emails to a number of our members and fellows. I have also received numerous emails as well. It is heartening to see the degree of volunteerism and the willingness to participate and work hard for the good of our organization. I am honored and challenged to serve as President of an organization that has such an engaged membership, along with a supportive culture, and which has stood up for safety and quality for over a century.
Our recent Annual Meeting in Phoenix was perhaps the most successful of all time. Program Chair Dr. Steve Sentovich and his co-chairs, Drs. Jennifer Beaty and Scott Nelson, established a standard of excellence that will be hard to match. Clearly, the gauntlet has been laid down for next year, but I am confident that, with the able assistance of my program chairs Drs. Bradley Champagne and Joe Carmichael, we are up for the challenge. Just like a baseball team (I love sports analogies), we will go back to the basics and concentrate on the fundamentals of things that matter to the practicing clinician.
A number of new ideas will be test run at next year's Annual Meeting in Florida, including:
- A wrap-up at the end of each day designed to tell the audience what they missed in the "other room."
- A mock trial is guaranteed to entertain and educate, while a number of hot topic debates among leading members will generate some controversy.
Although Maintenance of Certification (MOC) will be primarily the purview of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, we will continue to increase the number of self-assessment CME credits available as well. We have created the new position of Social Media Director, and Dr. Scott Steele will be using a number of creative approaches to enhance our experience. These will include an audience response system (iPad based), Twitter feed, and mashups.
Of course, a lot of activity goes on behind the scenes daily in ASCRS, thanks to the numerous committees and their active members. The CREST committee, under the tireless leadership of Scott Steele, will see their product go live online soon. This true labor of love of a very busy committee, will be invaluable to all of us, as it represents a treasure trove of educational materials.
The Quality Assessment and Safety Committee, with leadership from Drs. Arden Morris and Larissa Temple, has a full plate of activities. They are rolling out a rectal cancer "check list" and will work with the Socioeconomic Committee (now called the Healthcare Economics Committee and newly chaired by Dr. Steve Sentovich) through liaison Dr. Dave Etzioni to help all of us maneuver through the new PQRS and Value based modifier requirements which threaten our individual economic viability.
Additionally, member Dr. Conor Delaney will continue with the Case Log effort and also lead an Enhanced Recovery Pathway subcommittee (joint effort with SAGES). His report on plans to develop an educational program for TME is included with this newsletter.
The New Technology Committee is a vibrant and energetic group with a number of great ideas. New chair Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy will take the baton from Dr. Peter Marcello. One of the main efforts will be a transanal TME project. Preliminary fundraising is already underway to create a Research Foundation-supported research project to explore this new approach in a rigorous scientific fashion.
There are innumerable other committees and projects on which I don't have the space to elaborate and will do so at a future time.
As I take on the responsibility of ASCRS President, I want to thank my predecessor, Dr. Alan Thorson, for his example, his mentorship, and his friendship. The words of his inspiring Presidential Address, "do not accept mediocrity in medicine," will provide continuing guidance, as they ring in our ears for weeks to come.
I welcome input and involvement of each and every member and committee chair. A retreat/strategic planning process is currently in the planning stages for 2014, and the fruits of that labor will keep us on track as we move forward.