Published 9/1/2008
Kristy L. Weber, MD

CORQAT: A vital AAOS Council

Focusing the message

“What is the Council on Research, Quality Assessment, and Tech­nology (CORQAT) all about?” “What does it do?” “How does it help my practice?”

These are oft-heard comments about the AAOS Council with the protracted name. At the May 5, 2008, CORQAT meeting—the first under my leadership—the number-one order of business was to begin to develop well-defined answers to these questions and to increase understanding of the Council’s role within orthopaedics.

Council provides “foundation” for AAOS efforts
The Council on Research, Quality Assessment, and Technology is crucial to the functioning of the AAOS. One of its core functions is providing the necessary “groundwork” (research) needed for the Council on Education or the Council on Advocacy to act on issues of organization-wide importance.

In spite of this Council’s importance, its charges are so diverse that identifying one common focus—such as education, advocacy, or communications—is a challenge. It doesn’t help that its confusing acronym, CORQAT, sounds more like an exotic fruit than a Council.

Clinical guidelines, technology overviews
One Council initiative that has a direct effect on the practice of orthopaedic surgery is the development of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). In this endeavor, the Council utilizes the best available evidence to develop recommendations related to diagnosis or treatment of specific orthopaedic conditions. Thus far, we have developed CPGs on pulmonary embolism prophylaxis in patients undergoing hip and knee replacement, and diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Eleven additional guidelines are in development.

Technology overviews are also being prepared, although new technology does not always have much true evidence on which to base treatment decisions. In these overviews, such as the completed statement on Gender Specific Knee Replacements, we provide the best available information but do not make a formal recommendation about use of a technology.

Other Council efforts
The Council is also engaged in an ongoing effort to incorporate an evidence-based approach into many AAOS initiatives, especially in this time of increased governmental regulation of our practices. Volunteers on the Biomedical Engineering and Biological Implants committees regularly interact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Society of Testing and Materials, and the Orthopaedic Device Forum to facilitate the use and regulation of new devices used in joint arthroplasty and spine surgery. The Council also closely monitors occupational health and workers compensation issues and regulations.

In other Council efforts, the Patient Safety Committee has merged with the former Infections Committee to focus on major initiatives, such as Sign your Site, and to make the membership aware of important safety issues related to infections, allografts, and devices.

Stimulating, nurturing research
Each spring, Research Capitol Hill Days brings orthopaedic surgeons and their patients to Washington, D.C, to lobby for additional musculoskeletal research funding. Throughout the year, the Research Development Committee works with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build relationships and encourage additional funding opportunities for orthopaedic surgeons.

For orthopaedic residents interested in careers that combine research and clinical practice, the Clinician Scientist Development Program provides mentors and new skill-sets related to negotiations, grant writing, and time management. The Council also works to promote the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade and increase awareness about the growing burden of musculoskeletal disease.

An “evolving” strategic plan
The Council’s strategic plan is evolving, with particular focus on whether its current committee structure and name are appropriate. There will be a push to encourage younger AAOS members who have interest or expertise in specialized areas, such as biomedical engineering or guidelines development, to join the committees.

Because this Council interfaces with federal advisory councils, NIH, and the FDA, it’s important to cultivate orthopaedic surgeons or scientists who can build long-lasting relationships with these groups in order to highlight the interests and concerns of AAOS members. Lastly, the Council’s key messages will be highlighted in the Academy’s various communications vehicles (such as Headline News Now and AAOS Now), with a specific focus on how the work affects the practices of AAOS members.

Over the next few months we will revisit the Council’s mission, vision, and goals—culminating at a strategic session at the Oct. 20, 2008, meeting. It is also likely that the Council’s name will be changed to something that does not encourage the use of an acronym.

Kristy L. Weber, MD, is chair of the Council on Research, Quality Assessment, and Technology. Dr. Weber is an associate professor and chief of the Division of Orthopaedic Oncology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Who’s who
The Council is composed of eight committees, including Guidelines and Technology Oversight (chaired by William C. Watters III, MD), Evidence-Based Practice (Michael W. Keith, MD); Patient Safety (Robert L. Brooks, MD); Biomedical Engineering (William M. Mihalko, MD, PhD); Biological Implants (Scott D. Boden, MD); Occupational Health and Workers Compensation (J. Mark Melhorn, MD); Research Development (Denis R. Clohisy, MD); and the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade (Kimberly J. Templeton, MD).

Support for the Council is provided by Charles Turkelson, director of the AAOS Department of Research and Scientific Affairs, and his staff. (www.aaos.org/research/research.asp), with additional support from David Lovett in the Washington, D.C., office.

AAOS provides surveys, other research services
In addition to providing support to the Council, the Academy’s research and scientific affairs department also furnishes survey services to professional societies such as orthopaedic subspecialty societies and the Board of Councilors. The surveys are much less expensive than those administered by consulting services.

The department’s services include questionnaire design, member needs surveys, and data analysis. For more information, please contact Heidi Schmalz at schmalz@aaos.org

Are you preparing a report or giving a talk related to orthopaedics? Writing a grant? The AAOS orthopaedic research information center provides free literature searches, general reference information, and statistical data about musculoskeletal conditions. Contact the center at researchinfo@aaos.org or (847) 384-4312 for details.