Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq, CAE, (center) visits with David D. Teuscher, MD, and Amy L. Ladd, MD, during the 2017 AAOS Board of Directors meeting in San Diego.


Published 8/1/2017

New Academy CEO Outlines Plans for the Future

Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq, CAE: AAOS to focus on strategy implementation, advocacy, healthcare quality, and more Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq, CAE, joined the AAOS as chief executive officer (CEO) in April, bringing with him a record of medical professional society leadership experience and a thorough understanding of the current healthcare environment.

Most recently, Mr. Arend served as executive vice president, chief operating officer, and general counsel at the American College of Cardiology (ACC), a 52,000-member organization in Washington, D.C. In that role, he was responsible for ensuring ACC's overall financial health, operational effectiveness, and strategic direction. In addition, he oversaw all aspects of the College's legal, risk management, and compliance activities.

Mr. Arend, who replaced longtime AAOS CEO Karen L. Hackett, FACHE, CAE, upon her retirement, received a Juris Doctor degree from the Washington College of Law at The American University, a Master of Arts in International Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bar associations, the American Society of Association Executives, and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

AAOS Now recently spoke with Mr. Arend regarding his approach to the role of CEO and how he will ensure the Academy continues to help orthopaedists provide high-quality musculoskeletal care to their patients.

AAOS Now: What made you interested in serving as CEO of AAOS?

Mr. Arend: I was at the ACC for 13 years and was chief operating officer and general counsel for most of that time. I was very happy with that position, in which I worked with a great CEO, who was a tremendous mentor to me, as well as with an exceptionally passionate, committed group of member leaders.

While I was at the ACC, I was aware of the significant presence of orthopaedics in healthcare and of the AAOS' stellar reputation in the medical specialty field. During the interview process for the AAOS CEO position, I was particularly impressed with the questions and objectives of the Academy members on the search committee.

As I learned more about the Academy's activities and the possibilities for the future, the idea of taking what I learned and experienced at the ACC and applying some of that to the Academy became all the more attractive to me. This position gives me the opportunity to work with a new team in a dynamic environment and get on a new learning curve, which is one of the most interesting parts of this job.

AAOS Now: What are some of your key action items?

Mr. Arend: Particularly in the first 6 months, my plans are to reach out to folks, both at the staff and the member levels. I want to learn as much as I can about the organization, understand where the Academy has been and how it got to where it is today and better understand the overall environment in orthopaedic medicine.

I will be focused on three important areas: the AAOS strategic plan, the culture of the organization, and its governance. I am very aware that the Academy is a complex organization with a lot of different constituencies. And then, at a slightly more granular level, I am looking at what the Academy is doing now to evaluate whether its current activities will get us to where we need to be in 3 to 5 years.

It's important to understand that we're in a competitive environment, and we have to critically evaluate whether any given initiative represents a unique value proposition for the Academy so that we provide the highest level of value for our members—and, ultimately, it must fulfill the AAOS' mission of supporting our members in providing the highest quality musculoskeletal care to patients. That's what we're all about.

AAOS Now: What new initiatives does the AAOS plan to implement?

Mr. Arend: It goes back to the construct of strategy, culture, and governance. We are assessing the current strategic plan and the activities under it to ensure that we are currently providing a high value to our members and that we will continue to do so.

One area that we're seriously looking at is expanding the Academy's role in quality, because the AAOS should play a central role in ensuring our members' success in a value-based healthcare environment. Clinical data registries are an important component of quality in orthopaedics, so we are exploring playing a greater role in that environment and bringing that effort together with our existing assets in data analytics, education, government relations, and in science translated into practice through the Academy's clinical practice guidelines, appropriate use criteria, and performance measures.

As for the Academy's staff members, we will drive a culture that is based on teamwork by empowering our staff individually and as teams. Staff should understand that we're accountable for results based on the strategic plan—and like our members, that we're responsible for ensuring that we're constantly learning and improving ourselves so that we can provide better value to our membership.

AAOS Now: What are some of the greatest challenges facing orthopaedists and other physicians right now? How can the Academy position itself to help?

Mr. Arend: I think the greatest challenge right now is that the healthcare environment is moving from a volume-based system to a value-based system. We need to help our membership thrive in that environment.

The AAOS can do that by supporting our members with the appropriate education, as well as tools and data that allow them to demonstrate that they're providing value to patients through improved care, better outcomes, and an overall patient experience that is patient-centered, evidence-based, and cost-effective. The Academy has to leverage all of its assets together in new ways because the desired outcome isn't dependent on one or another particular area within the Academy.

AAOS Now: How will you ensure our members are involved as the Academy continues to evolve and grow?

Mr. Arend: This predates me, but the AAOS recently reorganized its entire governance structure around education. We can use that as an example of how we must constantly use critical thinking to evaluate how decisions are made at the Academy based on input from the membership.

We need to constantly refresh the participation and leadership pipeline for our members, because our members are the Academy's greatest asset. They provide us with intellectual capital, insights, and passion that can't be reproduced by any other group, so we have to nurture and channel those assets in a way that is productive and creates value for members and their patients.

AAOS Now: Anything to add on a personal note?

Mr. Arend: This transition is a homecoming in many ways. I was born and raised in the Chicago area, so it has been exciting to return after almost 30 years and bring the family back. There is a level of familiarity here that is nice. It is also great to return in a way that is incredibly rewarding professionally.

I am honored and humbled to be leading this strong and vibrant organization. I look forward to advancing the mission of the Academy and working closely with the volunteer leaders, members, and staff.