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 Presidential Update 06/09

L. Andrew Koman, MD

L. Andrew Koman, MD
June 4, 2009

Last weekend, the ASSH Council ( your volunteer Board of Directors) met for our Spring Meeting.  It was an exciting agenda, and I would like to share some of the highlights with you now. 

Journal of Hand Surgery
JHS is, and should be, a source of pride for the Hand Society and those who contribute to its excellence.  Its continued success has led Journal Advisory Group members Ed Akelman, MD, Steve Glickel, MD, and Chair, Andy Lee, MD to work with our publisher towards some exciting improvements that will benefit members and increase the influence of JHS. 

The first improvement is the inclusion of CME credit in the Journal.  Beginning in the Jul/Aug issue, approximately 2-3 CME hours will be available in each issue for the very affordable price and below market price to our members of $10 per hour.  These hours will count towards MOC beginning in January of 2010.

January 2010 will see another change for JHS - we will be moving from 10 issues per year to 12.  Consistently since 2007, our editor-in-chief, Paul Manske has seen a significant increase in the number of exceptional submissions.  To accommodate this volume, we will have two more issues per year - a great way to increase citations, impact and esteem.

Program Review
Last September, the Program Advisory Group was created to evaluate all ASSH programs over a three-year cycle.  The goal of the group is to determine the value of our current programs and assure that we are utilizing our direct and indirect resources (member time, staff time, and dollars) to support our core mission..  The group is composed of Bob Szabo, MD, Chair, Dan Nagle, MD, and Alex Shin, MD.  Working with our capable staff, they assembled data to evaluate the cost-benefit of each program and recommended potential actions to the Council. After discussion, centered on member cost-benefit, societal imperatives and long term strategic needs, Council  has sunset 5 of thes programs. This  will free-up valuable resources and conserve funds  during these tough economic times.

In the same spirit, the Central Office has engaged in a staff-wide effort to reduce costs and give you the best possible value for your membership.  They have successfully saved $152,000 thus far and expect more savings to follow.  Special thanks go to staff members Nicole Renn and Angie Legaspi for their successful and innovative initiatives to save on meeting promotions. 

CTS Guidelines
As many of you know, AAOS recently released CTS guidelines on diagnosis and treatment.  The Hand Society was asked to endorse the guidelines.  After considerable deliberation, Council decided that it was in the Society's best interest not to endorse the guidelines. While we fully support the creation of robust evidence-based guidelines, we felt that we could not offer our endorsement unless the organization writing guidelines is willing to change and update them as new evidence or concerns evolve.  In particular, we felt at odds with the statement that there "should be" an electronic diagnostic exam prior to CTS surgery, which AAOS was unwilling to alter.  I have sent a detailed letter to the leadership of the AAOS explaining why we chose not to endorse these guidelines.

Of course, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the AAOS to refine these guidelines, and we look forward to collaborating in the development of other upper extremity guidelines in the future.

Enhancing Education
Bob Szabo, MD, came to Council with a big idea to enhance the training of hand surgeons.  Excellence within the specialty is crucial, and so is forward movement.  Council agreed to create a long-term goal of improving and expanding the length and breadth of hand surgery fellowships.  We hope to enhance the fellowship experience, producing more capable surgeons dedicated to our rich field of hand surgery.  

This is no small task.  Bob has done a significant amount of research on how other medical subspecialties have accomplished similar goals.  We are starting slowly by creating multiple task forces to evaluate positive and negative factors associated with any changes in hand /upper extremity education. .  We are enthusiastic about the far-reaching benefits improved education will have on the Society, the surgeons, and most importantly, the patients. 

Endorsement Policy
Each year, the Hand Society receives various requests to endorse educational products.  We believe that it's important to be clear about what it means to have the endorsement of the ASSH, a sign of excellence, quality, and value, and to be clear about which projects are worthy of this seal of approval. 

Council decided that endorsing products is inappropriate and detracts from our core competencies and missions of education and  research, and member-patient advocacy..  In this spirit, the Hand Society will not endorse any course or product which it has not developed, co-developed, initiated, or deemed to be of great value to the Society and its members or patients .

Textbook RFP
Recently Education Division Director, Ed Akelman, MD and the publications department sent out a Request for Proposal for a comprehensive hand and upper extremity textbook.  We have received five very promising proposals which will go through our vigorous and transparent vetting process.  The five proposals will be sent to Ghazi Rayan, MD and the Publications and Products Advisory Committee (PPAC) for assessment.   PPAC members will vote anonymously, and choose three proposals to go to Council for a final decision in September.  We are confident in this process and eager to advance.

Task Forces
Last December, three task forces were created: one regarding military collaboration chaired by Alex Shin, MD; an ER task force to work towards a solution for hand surgery call, chaired by Scott Levin, MD; and a membership task for chaired by Mary Boyer, MD. The last is charged  to explore ways to bring more members to the Hand Society.  Work in all three of these areas continues to be fruitful.  I'd like to thank Drs. Shin, Levin and Boyer for all of their hard work and dedication. 

Nominating Committee
This year, the Nominating Committee was charged with nominating a Practice Division Director.  After two years as a very effective and successful Practice Division Director, Dan Nagle, MD, has been nominated to continue in that role for another three years.  The members will vote on this Nominating Committee recommendation as part of this week's e-ballot. 

See you in San Francisco!

Andy Koman