Weekly Member Update - July 8, 2011


July 8, 2011


One Question

You Are Invited to Help Plan the 2011 Members Business Meeting Agenda

ASSH Introduces the First Featured Member: Gary Pess, MD

Annual Meeting Committee Meeting Schedule Now Available

Congratulations to the 2011 New ASSH Members!

Don't Miss Your Opportunity to Apply to the 2011 Young Leaders Program

Health Volunteers Overseas – Orthopaedic Sub-Specialist Volunteer Opportunities

Thank You to AFSH Donors

CMS Issues Proposed Ruling on 2012 Physician Fee Schedule – from the AAOS


This year's Members Business Meeting will be focused on issues that you, as members, want to discuss.  Will you be attending?  Answer this week's One Question.
You Are Invited to Help Plan the 2011 Members Business Meeting Agenda
Thanks to our Immediate Past President Robert M. Szabo, MD and input from attendees, last year's Members Business Meeting was the best attended meeting in years, so it was decided to continue to use the new format. 
Please share your input to help shape the 2011 Members Business Meeting agenda.  This open format gives you an opportunity to share your ideas, and interact with your colleagues about issues that are important to you and your career.
Complete the topic suggestion and open-ended response form to offer your ideas by next Friday, July 15.  We will identify the most popular areas for discussion, and later we’ll ask everyone to rank topics of interest to finalize the agenda by August 5th.

According to the recent Members Value Survey collegiality ranks among the most valued of the intangible benefits of ASSH Membership.  But with thousands of members spanning the globe, connecting with all of your colleagues presents a challenge.  To begin bridging that gap, the Hand Society has created a new feature in Weekly Member Update  that introduces you to different ASSH members and shares with you a little about their careers.   To kick-off this new program, we would like to introduce our first Featured Member Gary Pess, MD who has been a member of ASSH since 1991.
Dr. Pess attended SUNY Downstate Medical School, completed his residency at New York University/Bellevue and his fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He is the Director at Central Jersey Hand Center in Eatontown, New Jersey.
What’s the most memorable surgery you’ve performed? 

At the beginning of my fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, I treated a patient who worked on the same cutting machine for 30 years. On the first day that he was moved to a different machine,  he amputated his hand through the distal forearm. It was my first complete hand replantation, and I was able to follow the patient throughout my fellowship to the point where he returned to work.  He regained excellent flexion and extension and protective sensation.  The surgery was long and tiring, but the result was very rewarding. 
Why did you become a hand surgeon?
I fell in love with the anatomy of the hand my first month of medical school. This stimulated me to immediately start working in the Orthopedic Clinic. After 4 weeks of Medical School, I was already scrubbing on surgeries. In my Orthopedic Residency at NYU, I was greatly influenced by my mentors Robert Beasley and Charles Melone, who demonstrated how elegant and intricate Hand Surgery could be.  I loved the variety of procedures I could perform, becoming a surgeon who could do vascular surgery, microsurgery, neurosurgery, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery.
What are you most concerned about in the coming year?
I am very concerned about reimbursement and increased government control. The trend over the last 10 years has been for physicians to increase volume to maintain income. I think we are getting close to the tipping point.
What is your best tip for new/young surgeons?
Take the time to sit and listen to your patients. Make sure they know that you care about their problems. Even though the diagnosis may seem simple to you, every patient needs to understand their problem and the alternatives for treatment. Ignore the temptation to multitask and input into your  iPad or Tablet while talking to your patients.
Join the ASSH Listserve and participate. There is much wisdom to be gained there.
Now for some short answers:
    1. Favorite foods: Seared tuna, large lobsters and eggplant parmesan.
    2. Favorite vacation spot: Hilton Head Island, SC
    3. Pets: My iPad
    4. Sports/hobbies:  Travel, golf, skiing, tennis, computers, fantasy baseball and football (I am the commissioner). I enjoy collecting and tasting wine from all over the world - my favorites are Napa Cabs and Chateauneuf du Pape. I have a extensive lighthouse collection and enjoy visiting and climbing lighthouses wherever I go.
    5. Family members: I have wonderful family which has given me great support and always come first in my life. I just celebrated my 30th anniversary with my wife, Lois, an OTR. My son, Matthew, is 26 and is an mechanical engineer for Hamilton-Sundstrand. He lives with his girlfriend, Lyndsay (also an engineer), in CT. I have identical twin daughters, 24, who live in NYC. Rebecca is almost done with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at NYU. Rachel has been doing Child Developmental Psychology Research at NYU. She begins studies for her PsyD in September at Kean University.

Thanks Dr. Pess!  ASSH loves learning more about our members.  If you’re willing to be interviewed (usually via email to be quick and painless) as one of our featured members, contact Tara Havenga (thavenga@assh.org). 
The ASSH committee meeting schedule for the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas is now available online. All committee meetings will be held at Mandalay Bay. Staff liaisons will be sending out email notices soon. If you are a member of one of the committees meeting in Las Vegas, make sure you RSVP with your staff liaison by August 17th.
ALL Members should take a moment to check out the New Member Information page on the website.  You will find the listing for the new 2011 ASSH Active, International and Supporting Members, along with information on your membership benefits.  Have a question regarding your ASSH membership?  Contact Jeanne Bloesch – Senior Membership Coordinator at
The Young Leaders Program is a leadership development program for young members who are interested in becoming more involved in the Hand Society and are dedicated to the future of hand surgery.  For more information about the program, visit our website or complete the Online Application.
The deadline for applications is August 1, 2011.  Questions should be sent to Alexzandra Wallace at awallace@assh.org.

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana needs volunteers for 2-4 week assignments to assist Kumasi faculty in increasing the number and quality of trained orthopaedic and trauma physicians in Ghana. Contact the program department for additional information.  Read a recent article in AAOS Now about this exciting new program.
Hospitals in Costa Rica need sub-specialists in arthroscopy, arthroplasty, spine, trauma, hand, and pediatric surgery, as well as other areas, to train residents and staff.  Assignments are one week.  For more information, contact the program department.
Thanks to the partnership of hundreds of donors each year the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand continues to make a difference in patient care, research, and education.  We especially thank these donors who made a contribution to the Foundation in the past week.   
William E. Billings, Jr., MD
Dawn M. Briskey, CAE
Todd M. Guyette, MD
Sheila G. Lindley, MD
James E. Stuart, MD 
You can make a difference through your contribution today, visit www.afsh.org or contact us at afsh@assh.org.
On July 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule to update payment policies and rates for physicians and non-physician practitioners (NPPs) for services paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) in calendar year 2012.  Under the current sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, providers would face a 29.5 percent cut for services rendered in 2012.  In addition, CMS plans to expand its potentially misvalued code initiative by focusing on the highest volume and dollar codes billed by physicians to determine whether these codes are overvalued and if evaluation and management codes are undervalued. Other changes in the proposed rule include the following:
  • Expanding the multiple procedure payment reduction to apply to the professional interpretation of advance imaging services as well.
  • Expanding the list of services that can be furnished through telehealth to include smoking cessation services.
  • Updating physician incentive programs such as the Physician Quality Reporting System, the e-Prescribing Incentive Program and the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program.
  • Establishing a new value-based modifier that would reward physicians for providing higher quality and more efficient care, as required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
  • Implementing the third year of a 4-year transition to new practice expense relative value units, based on data from the Physician Practice Information Survey that was adopted in the 2010 final rule.
CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule through August 30, 2011, and will issue the final rule by November 1, 2011.  The AAOS will review the proposed rule and submit comments by the deadline.  Read more.