Summer 2015  

President’s Message
As We Move Forward, We Want Industry Partners To Know We Understand the Value of Their Support

Induction of New President Dr. Terry Hicks

New President Dr. Charles Littlejohn pins a past president's pin on his predecessor, Dr. Terry Hicks.

By Charles E. Littlejohn, MD

Our Annual Meeting in Boston was a resounding success. Thanks to the hard work of the program committee, led by Drs. David Margolin and David Vargas, and our executive staff, the meeting broke all attendance records. Outgoing President Dr. Terry Hicks deserves applause for his leadership and selecting a great team.

I would like to extend additional applause for the wisdom and hard work offered to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) by retiring Council members: Drs. John Garry, Gerald Isenberg, Deborah Nagle, Harry Papaconstantinou, and Michael Stamos.

The ASCRS Executive Council is concerned about the potential for decreasing industry support of future meetings, due in part to enactment of the Sunshine Act, which could lead to the reticence of some of our corporate supporters to back the meeting as robustly as they have in the past. During his presidential term, Dr. Hicks spent a great deal of time collaborating with industry to encourage their support of the educational mission of our society. Many of our partners have stepped up to the plate and assured me they wish to continue to support our educational functions. Over the next year, ASCRS leadership will continue to work with industry to be sure they understand the value of their support.

However, we do not know if corporate support will diminish or stagnate over time. As the Educational Fund grows, it can be used to financially support the meetings. The Educational Fund was an idea planted by Past President Dr. Bruce Wolff, who understood very well that industry support might decrease over time due to fluctuations in the economy and extrinsic forces. Growth of the fund will help us to keep our meeting registration fees at reasonable levels if industry support should decrease over time. I encourage the membership to donate their extra dollars to the Educational Fund when the opportunity presents itself during the annual request for dues.

The intellectual jewel of the Society is its many committees that work day-to-day to ensure the growth and wellbeing of ASCRS. For example, the updated website is a result of the hard work by our staff and the Website Committee, chaired by Dr. Margolin. The website provides access to ASCRS resources for members and the public. Two enhancements worth noting will be the ability to obtain CME credits from the CREST initiative, headed by Dr. Scott Steele, and from the upcoming online CARSEP initiative, headed by Dr. Matthew Mutch. Your support is requested as the site continues its buildout.

Speaking of technology, our Social Media Committee under Dr. Kyle Cologne’s leadership is also developing additional ways to communicate with the membership. The access to our Annual Meeting mobile web app this past year enhanced the membership’s ability to develop individual itineraries for the meeting. Members were also presented with ways to communicate with one another, claim CME, and browse the meeting program. Our Annual Meeting app continues to improve every year, thanks to the efforts of the Social Media Committee.

As we continue our growth as an organization, I anticipate further collaboration with other organizations. Our Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee, chaired by Dr. Janice Rafferty, will continue its work on releasing practice guidelines that we can use to enhance our clinical practices. This committee will further expand its work by collaborating with others in the development of some of our guidelines. Under the past leadership of Drs. Steven Wexner, Alan Thorson, Michael Stamos and Terry Hicks, ASCRS has worked with other societies to develop clinical guidelines that enhance patient care. We, in turn, continue to offer other societies the opportunity to endorse our guidelines, when appropriate. I am hopeful that there will be more opportunities in the future to further work with our local and international colleagues.

In addition to our clinical care and educational initiatives, we continue to work with the American College of Surgeons and other partners on socioeconomic issues. Coding and reimbursement issues continue to be important to the membership and the Executive Council is keenly aware of the need to closely monitor and influence the changing reimbursement environment. Fortunately, we are well represented by the Health Care Economics Committee, chaired by Dr. Stephen Sentovich, and by the Society’s recent appointment of Vice President Dr. Guy Orangio, who has long been active on RUC issues, to the AMA-RUC Advisory Committee.

Looking ahead to next year’s Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, the Program Committee, headed by Drs. Kirsten Wilkins (Chair), Joshua Bleier (Vice Chair), and Scott Steele (Vice Chair), is developing the educational program for 2016. The Committee is cognizant of the diversity of the membership and is working on a program that will appeal to both the clinical and academic surgeon.

Our membership, committees, and educational programs continue to grow. The growth has sometimes stressed the manpower capabilities of our staff. In an effort to further support the work of our members, additional staff will be hired over the next few months. This is another positive change that the Executive Council embraces to help our organization remain a leader in educating our patients and members about diseases that affect the colon, rectum and anus.

I want to thank our members and Council for trusting me to be the chief steward of ASCRS. Your support will be needed and valued to help me keep the ship on course.

 
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