Today's News

Friday, February 25, 2005

Specialty Societies Summit focus: Call to unity

AAOS, Specialty Societies develop plan for future relationships
By Howard Mevis

On Oct. 16-17, 2004, leaders from AAOS and 26 specialty societies participated in an orthopaedic summit, with the goals of increasing unity and establishing a better understanding of existing and potential relationships.

The Summit was an opportunity for open dialogue and focused on issues such as the future of the Council of Musculoskeletal Specialty Societies (COMSS), educational joint ventures, specialty society management services provided by AAOS, society governance, advocacy/practice management, and professionalism. Collaboration between Specialty Societies and the AAOS already exists in many areas, particularly the Annual Meeting, CME courses and enduring educational materials. "We want to create additional opportunities for collaboration with Specialty Societies, and we want transparency in all of our joint activities," stated Richard Kyle, MD, AAOS second-vice president, who chaired the summit.

Issues, policies, procedures
The first part of the summit covered specific issues affecting both the orthopaedic specialty and the relationships between the AAOS and specialty societies. A strong AAOS and strong Specialty Societies are highly valued, and collaboration is important to the success of all of the organizations.

"An unintended consequence of specialization is fragmentation of care for our patients," said James H. Herndon, MD, AAOS past president, who also noted that "education, professionalism, patient safety, and advocacy issues make it essential that we partner together."

Summit participants discussed AAOS policies and procedures for specialty society management services, society governance, and COMSS. The breakout sessions, jointly led by a specialty society president and an AAOS Board member, developed a series of specific recommendations, which were presented at day's end.

Successful efforts
The second part of the summit, led by Dr. Kyle and AAOS First Vice President Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, focused on the many successful jointly sponsored activities undertaken by the Academy and specialty societies.

"In the past five years, AAOS and specialty societies have successfully collaborated on more than 120 educational, research, communications or advocacy activities," noted Dr. Kyle. "All 26 specialty societies and the Academy have worked together on at least one of these activities."

Dr. Weinstein discussed the need for increased advocacy for physician payment, research funding and medical liability reform. He noted that although orthopaedic surgeons represent just 3 percent of all physicians, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons has a powerful impact on advocacy, putting orthopaedics at the top of all medical organizations.

"As a specialty, we are constantly under threats from the government, third-party payers and others," said Dr. Weinstein. "If we try to go it alone, with each specialty society establishing an advocacy effort and political action committee, we will all lose."

Small group discussions followed, and recommendations were later presented to the full group.

One-on-one meetings
The third part of the Summit involved one-on-one meetings between AAOS leadership and leaders from each of the specialty societies. These sessions were invaluable because the individual specialty societies are so different, ranging in size from 125 to 3,500 members.

Paul Tornetta III, MD, president-elect of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, reported, "Our meeting focused on ways to make COMSS an active council within the Academy structure as well as a mechanism for increasing activities with the Academy. The OTA board of directors values these activities and wants to ensure appropriate recognition and risk/reward sharing with the Academy. And, there must be a reporting function in place to bring back information on what AAOS is doing for the specialty societies."

At the conclusion of the summit, participants agreed upon seven key recommendations:

  1. Keep the COMSS name and reconfigure the organization.
  2. Encourage shared risk by AAOS and specialty societies on CME courses.
  3. Increase collaboration with specialty societies in planning and presenting the AAOS Annual Meeting educational program and coordination of Specialty Day.
  4. Develop forums for one-on-one meetings between the leadership of both specialty societies and the AAOS.
  5. Improve communication between the Boards of Directors of the AAOS and specialty societies.
  6. Develop policies and procedures to increase the number of specialty society appointments to AAOS committees.
  7. Address the question of intellectual property rights.

The AAOS Board of Directors approved the summit's seven recommendations at its December 2004 meeting. Special project teams were created and charged with developing implementation plans. Future partnerships between the AAOS and the orthopaedic specialty societies will ensure that orthopaedic surgeons speak with one voice and stand together on all issues relevant to orthopaedic education, research, advocacy and the care of patients with musculoskeletal diseases and injuries.

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