It was great to participate at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meeting in San Francisco. It was an outstanding event from several perspectives, including strong attendance, great education, and productive meetings of the House of Delegates and our many committees. A total of 15,308 registered for this meeting – a 7 percent increase over 2012. As a relative newcomer, only eight months on the job and with the experience of several medical specialties behind me, this meeting really stood out as among the best in specialty medicine for its quality, professionalism and sheer energy. Congratulations to Audreé Bendo, M.D., Chair of the Committee on Annual Meeting Oversight (AMOC), for her stewardship of ASA’s flagship conference.
In my experience as an association executive, a strong annual meeting is important over and above the event itself. It is the one time during the year when all interests in our community convene to discuss new concepts and debate important controversies. The meeting establishes momentum for the new leadership year and helps crystallize our priorities. In this column, I will share with you some of the 2014 priorities and some news about our management structure.
Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH):
In October, the House of Delegates approved the Committee on Future Models of Anesthesia Practice’s proposal to develop the PSH concept. The PSH’s triple aim of “better health, better health care, and reduced expenditures” will be one of ASA’s primary objectives in 2014. This budget includes funds for a learning collaborative, a stakeholder summit, member resources and education, and staff support. Most important will be our role to facilitate shared learning among PSH pioneers and to demonstrate the value of the model. In a webinar before the HOD sessions in 2013, Michael P. Schweitzer, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the Committee on Future Models of Anesthesia Practice, had this to say about the PSH: “The aggregate benefits to the specialty and to patient care will be substantial and game-changing, even if a minority of anesthesia groups are in a PSH in the first few years.” From both the volunteer and staff perspective, this project will leverage resources from across the organization, including AQI, health policy research, education and advocacy.
Support for House of Delegates (HOD) and Board of Directors (BOD):
At the HOD, important changes to the ASA Bylaws were approved, which clarify the respective roles of the HOD and BOD. These changes were the result of recent discussions in these bodies that the current governance structure presented fiduciary and legal risks to the Society. The newly constituted Committee on Governance Effectiveness and Efficiencies (CGEE), with the help of outside legal counsel, recommended that we clarify the roles of the BOD, as our governing body, and the HOD, as ASA’s policy-setting body, so that we are in compliance with the IRS and our own bylaws. Staff will work very closely with the CGEE to support the implementation of the new bylaws. Most critical is our commitment to good communication to all levels of governance. We plan to work very closely with the HOD and BOD to ensure a steady flow of information so that they can fulfill their responsibilities. One example of this will be to continue the periodic webinars that were introduced last summer and which were very well received.
We hear from a lot of subspecialty experts in this issue of the NEWSLETTER, which is devoted to neuroanesthesia care. And ASA is doing a lot to make sure our relationships with subspecialty societies continue to strengthen and evolve. ASA President Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. has recently appointed a steering committee devoted to subspecialties, chaired by ASA Vice President for Scientific Affairs Beverly K. Philip, M.D. Dr. Philip and her committee will focus on several needs brought forth by subspecialty leaders, including collaboration in education and meetings, and improved communication.
ASA is guided by its strategic plan, most recently updated in 2013 under the leadership of then President-Elect Jane Fitch. The new planning process will soon begin under President-Elect John Abenstein, M.D. and will employ a process of scenario planning to help ASA evaluate its long-term strategies under potential best- and worst-case scenarios. The process of scenario planning is ideally suited to the uncertain times in which we now live. Our planning process will continue to build on key values of the current plan in being data-driven and inclusive of ASA’s diverse viewpoints.
A New Executive Team:
At the recent HOD, I announced some important changes to our executive team. These changes are intended to build on ASA’s strong staff talent, to align like functions, to improve accountability and to build on our organizational pillars of advocacy, education, quality and membership. The executive team consists of Manuel Bonilla, Chief Advocacy Officer; Tom Conway, Chief Operating Officer; Richard Dutton, M.D., M.B.A., Chief Quality Officer; Diane Gambill, Ph.D., Chief Learning Officer; and Chris Wehking, Chief Program Officer.
As we prepare for the transition of one year into the next, thanks to the many of you I have met throughout the country at society and component meetings and in your own practice settings for your warm welcome and for sharing with me your knowledge and insights. I am especially grateful to 2012-13 President John Zerwas, M.D. for his unparalleled leadership of the Society during the executive transition and his guidance to me during my early months on the job.
Anesthesiology is an exciting specialty with a bright future. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year!