Presenting a united front: Together we are one
By working together, we can achieve our goals
Unity in education
Education is at the core of the AAOS, and the orthopaedic specialty societies are the heart and blood of our educational system. At last fall’s specialty societies summit, AAOS and specialty society leadership agreed that specialty societies will be equal partners in future educational efforts so we can eliminate duplication and competition.
By coordinating our educational programs—co-branding and co-marketing courses—we all will benefit. Already, 30 percent of scheduled education courses are jointly sponsored. By 2008, 75 percent of our courses will be co-branded and co-marketed, with shared expenses and profits. We hope to partner with specialty societies in publishing and electronic media opportunities. Increased cooperation will make our educational efforts effective, focused and competitive.
Our most significant educational effort each year is the Annual Meeting. Our goal is to fill 80 percent of the positions on the Subspecialty Program Committee with specialty society members, so they can help direct Annual Meeting programming and develop a focused educational experience.
Sharing knowledge will improve the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions by all AAOS members. Hip specialists need to educate each other and all surgeons who see hip problems. Because hip pain can be caused by back pain, knowledge of both areas is essential. We must continue to educate each other and have interdisciplinary interaction.
Unity in advocacy
In advocacy, we need unity to achieve our regulatory and legislative agendas. By coordinating our efforts, we can ensure a clear, focused message. The Board of Councilors (BOC), Board of Specialty Societies (BOS/COMSS) and state societies will combine their efforts for advocacy in Washington, D.C., at our National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in the Spring and on other common issues at their Fall meeting.
Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, set the example and we must follow through. Our efforts have helped elect five new senators who support tort reform; Thomas Price, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon from Georgia, to the House of Representatives, and generated tort reform in several states.
I hope all members will support the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC). Over the next year I will work tirelessly to support our advocacy efforts and unify all parts of our advocacy agenda.
Another aspect of advocacy is the professionalism—in our dealings with patients, the public, government and industry—that has always been the essence of an orthopaedic surgeon. The AAOS led the way in developing a professional compliance program. The Committee on Professionalism monitors and considers transgressions and responds to these complaints at an organizational level.
Professional relations with industry fall under these guidelines. To develop and improve implants and procedures, orthopaedic surgeons work with device makers under professional and ethical guidelines that have been clearly outlined by the Academy. Activities outside these guidelines are not acceptable.
Unity in research
Research requires new technology assessment and clinical and basic research funding. New technologies are being directly marketed to the public, affecting our ability to care for patients. To respond to a patient’s request for new technologies, while continuing to deliver proven, effective patient care, our recommendations must be grounded in evidence-based medicine.
The Council on Research, Quality Assessment and Technology is developing a program to evaluate new technologies based on scientific evidence, which will require cooperation among specialty societies. Recently, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons examined the scientific and clinical evidence on minimally invasive procedures. This is the kind of information AAOS members need.
Raising funds for research is critical, and collaborating with the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundations and other organizations is essential. I hope we can work even more closely to increase support of orthopaedic research.
I have a personal interest in research to improve treatment and clinical protocols for our military forces in Iraq. Last year, a combined effort by the Academy, the military and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association resulted in a $7.5 million line item in the Department of Defense budget for orthopaedic research. We will continue our efforts this year to find ways to treat our troops—and, by extension—civilians.
Unity in communications
None of these goals can be met without a united communications effort. We must continue to educate our members, our patients and the public. Patient-centered care depends on effective communications. Shared decision-making can only be accomplished with a well-informed patient. The new Communications Cabinet will help expand communication at all levels.
During the Board’s Spring Workshop on communications, we will be looking at new vehicles and formats for more effective, tailored communications. We will develop a plan to implement educational programs for patients and the public on the value of orthopaedic care and the information available to them through the Academy. This will also help answer our members concerns about direct-to-consumer advertising.
Our patients can be our strongest advocates. Educating and communicating with our patients and telling their stories will enhance orthopaedic advocacy and research efforts. Orthopaedic surgeons fix fractures, straighten spines, excise bone tumors and reconstruct severely damaged joints. We save thousands of dollars by enabling our patients to return to work rapidly, by reducing disabilities and improving quality of life. Our patients can become our number one advocates.
Our profession faces great challenges. But if we are united, speak with one voice and clearly communicate our efforts, we can accomplish our goals. Together we are one.
Richard F. Kyle, MD