Spring 2015  

Balanced 2015 Annual Meeting program meets needs of our diverse membership

Dr. David Margolin By Dr. David Margolin
The challenge facing the ASCRS Program Committee was to create a program that meets the needs of a diverse membership. Member practices run the gamut from office based proctology (ASCRS was known as the American Proctologic Society for its first 74 years) to complex reoperative cancer surgery and anywhere in-between. The annual meeting program must strike a balance between anal/rectal and complex surgery. We feel the program created for the 2015 ASCRS Annual Meeting, May 31-June 3 in Boston, MA serves these competing needs very well and offers something for everyone.

A key to program development is to listen to what the membership wants. In preparation for creating this program, we studied the attendee program evaluations for each of the past ten years. We were listening and thinking, what can we do to make this a useful educational experience for all of these very different professionals?

Dr. David VargasIn New Orleans, where both Vice Chair David Vargas and I practice, they say the success of the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival is based not on the great music that you heard, but what you had to miss. We hope surgeons attending the Annual Meeting will face a similar dilemma. We have provided so many outstanding speakers and symposia that people will have to make tough choices. That is as it should be.

Let me first thank the Program Committee and the new “Super Selection Committee” for the hours they spent both individually and as groups reviewing this year’s abstract submissions. We had over 950 submissions (a new record), and the new process, scoring system, and organization sometimes tested the patience of many of us. However, we feel confident that the abstracts ultimately selected for the meeting are of great quality and offer the necessary diversity to optimize our educational goals.

I would like to highlight a few of the innovations in the 2015 Annual Meeting program, starting with the Saturday workshops and hands-on sessions. We recognize that these programs can be demanding of both financial and time resources. Members are invited to come to Boston on Saturday, before the official opening session, and learn about: transanal endoscopic surgery, laparoscopic colectomy, robotic colon and rectal surgery, advanced endoscopy and endoluminal surgery—all included in the general registration fee.

Dr. Tracy HullA new program of special interest this year, held on Saturday, will be the Question Writing Workshop. Historically, this invitation only workshop had restricted attendance, but this year it is open for all attendees to enjoy this excellent learning experience. The experts will be Drs. Tracy Hull, Cleveland, OH, Najjia Mahmoud, Philadelphia, PA, Shane McNevin, Spokane, WA, Glenn Ault, Los Angeles, CA, and Marcus Burnstein, Toronto, ON, Canada. Participants will learn how to write high-quality questions that can help the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery continue to provide a fair and thorough exam.

New this year is the New Technologies Symposium planned for Monday afternoon, directed by Drs. Sonia Ramamoorthy, La Jolla, CA, and Eric Haas, Houston, TX. It will feature presentations on the latest advances in colorectal surgery, including many emerging technologies that may not yet be ready for “prime time.” These are the technologies that will impact our practices in the future. Until now, there has been no platform for introducing emerging technologies in colorectal surgery.

Drs. John Eggenberger, Ypsilanti, MI, and Harry Reynolds, Cleveland, OH, are directing what promises to be an exceptional Sunday Symposium, “Complications: Prevention and Management.” It is part of an emphasis on quality and safety that runs throughout the program. “The increasing complexity of our patient’s medical and surgical issues and the expectation for perfect outcomes makes management ever more daunting,” the course directors say. Symposium presenters include Drs. John Alverdy, Chicago, IL, Teresa Carman, Cleveland, OH, Kirk Ludwig, Milwaukee, WI, Mark Manwaring, Greenville, NC, Michael McGee and James Merlino, Chicago, IL, Philip Paty, New York, NY, and Rudolph Rustin, Huye, Rwanda.

Other programs that serve our quality and safety emphasis include the Saturday symposium on improving outcomes, directed by Dr. Scott Steele, Fort Lewis, WA; the Sunday symposium, “Quality Initiatives in Clinical Practice,” directed by Drs. Arden Morris, Ann Arbor, MI, and Larissa Temple, New York, NY; the Monday symposium, “Rectal Cancer: Optimizing Outcomes through Techniques,” directed by Dr. José Guillem, New York, NY; a Tuesday symposium, “Ostomies: Location, Creation, and Complications,” directed by Drs. Deborah Nagle, Boston, MA, and Joseph Carmichael, Orange, CA; and a Wednesday abstract session on outcomes.

This year’s meeting features 26 symposia. The directors of these sessions have done an incredible job at faculty selection and creating topics that will stimulate discussion. Several days will end with unique “town hall” style debates on various topics that have become very popular. All surgical specialties have certain topics/diseases that contain controversy. Understanding the optimal treatment plan for patients often depends on a physician’s ability to see clarity in these lines of gray. Refreshments served at these end-of-the-day debates will include beer and wine to help create a fun environment for everyone who attends!

While the principal focus for the program is science and clinical practice, we will also offer some very practical management programs to make the Annual Meeting experience even more useful. Dr. James Merlino, Chicago, IL, directs a Sunday program on healthcare economics in the era of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It will cover some critical elements of the ACA that are changing how medicine is practiced, including value-based purchasing, ICD-10, value-based care and the Accountable Care organization, meaningful use, and the two midnight rule. Dr. Bradley Champagne, Cleveland, OH, directs a vital program entitled, “Navigating a Career Path in Colon and Rectal Surgery – Orchestrating and Optimizing Career Transitions at All Levels.” Speakers include Drs. Wayne Ambroze, Atlanta, GA, James Fleshman, Dallas, TX, Gregory Kennedy, Madison, WI, Mark Manwaring, Greenville, SC, and the Society’s Immediate Past President, Michael Stamos, Orange, CA.

Another highlight will be Tuesday’s “Medical Legal Symposium: How to Protect Yourself,” directed by Dr. Anthony Senagore, Parma, OH. Its goal is to reduce the risk of having a medical malpractice claim filed against you. Presentations will cover professional liability, medical documentation billing, employment contracting, and insurance contracting.

We have made an extra effort to get younger surgeons involved in the program this year. In all the abstract sessions, for example, we have tried to pair younger with more established surgeons. You might also notice some unfamiliar names among the many program speakers.

Another highlight is Sunday’s luncheon symposium, “The Genetics of Colorectal Cancer and Cancer Related Syndromes.” Roughly one third of colorectal cancers have some hereditary component, and Dr. Paul Wise, St. Louis, MO, has organized a higher level program to deepen your understanding of the implications of the outcomes of genetic testing.

This year’s program will also feature the essentials that are part of every Annual Meeting program: core subject update, laparoscopic nuts and bolts, technical pearls, a discussion of controversies and cases by distinguished ASCRS past presidents, eposter presentations, “Meet the Professor” breakfasts, the general surgery forum, research forum, and a presentation of best videos.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the annual Dinner Dance on Wednesday evening, will let everyone relax, enjoy the company of friends and outstanding music and dancing from one of Boston’s best local bands.

I would like to thank the ASCRS staff for handling all of the administrative responsibilities for the meeting and making it possible for us to plan the program and still keep our day jobs.

Copyright © 2015 American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, All rights reserved.