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Presidential Update: September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

My presidential year is half over. Although we pushed back the in-person 2021 Annual Meeting to the end of August, the Academy’s required business meetings and the BOC and BOS meetings will be conducted virtually in March 2021. During this virtual meeting, Daniel Guy, MD, FAAOS, will become President and Felix “Buddy” Savoie, MD, FAAOS, will become First Vice President. Until then, I will continue the work of leading our organization to serve you, our members, and to deliver on our Strategic Plan.

Over the last six months, AAOS volunteers and staff have worked tirelessly in responding to the unforeseen existential threat of the COVID pandemic. Our membership has been well-served by the Academy’s educational, quality, and advocacy efforts. These efforts include: securing governmental payments and loans for our practices, holding a successful virtual 2020 Annual Meeting, moving the 2021 in-person Annual Meeting, and codifying rules for return to essential surgery. In the midst of dealing with the COVID pandemic, work has continued and we have remained focused on implementing our Strategic Plan. It is these efforts that I will highlight in the paragraphs below.

The Education Council is on schedule to roll out the new Resident Curriculum. Paul Tornetta, MD, FAAOS, has assembled a robust volunteer infrastructure, representing all subspecialties, and they have worked steadily throughout the pandemic to build a comprehensive Resident Curriculum. These efforts will ensure that all residency programs have access to the same high-quality, peer-reviewed educational material. Moreover, the Resident Curriculum will build and strengthen relationships with residents, who are the future members of the Academy. I would be remiss if I did not thank our subspecialty society partners and the American Orthopaedic Association’s Council of Orthopaedic Residency Directors (CORD) Program for their assistance with this project. The whole family of orthopaedics will benefit from this cooperation.

Robert Quinn, MD, FAAOS, and the Research and Quality Council continue to deliver on their portion of the Strategic Plan. They have completed an updated Appropriate Use Criteria for the Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tears. The Committee on Devices, Biologics, and Technology is delivering on the biologics initiative. They have unveiled a beta version of an app that allows users to understand the evidence and appropriateness of biologic-based treatments for various musculoskeletal conditions. The Board was sent a version and it really is remarkable and easy to use. When completed and tested, it will be an asset in our clinical decision-making. Again, with much time and effort and very little fanfare, we have achieved significant results during the pandemic.

Besides its tireless work in ensuring that our practices receive the financial support they deserve and need to remain solvent, the Advocacy Council has not stopped working on the non-pandemic issues that are part of its 2020 Unified Advocacy Agenda. These include: fighting surprise billing, repealing unfair antitrust laws, addressing proposed payment policy changes as part of the 2021 CMS rules, and combating insurers’ efforts to enact increasingly burdensome prior authorization requirements—an issue that is quickly becoming one of the biggest threats to delivering high-value care to our patients. We are currently working to block insurers’ efforts to include actual imaging studies as part of the prior authorization process, since it will do nothing more than delay treatment for those who deserve it. Furthermore, the federal government’s proposal to eliminate the inpatient-only list will create another prior authorization battle (learn more in this related podcast episode). Not only do we need to get procedures authorized, but we will also have to spend time and resources advocating for the appropriate site-of-service and length of stay for patients. Wilford Gibson, MD, FAAOS, and the Advocacy Council grasp this potential threat and are proactively working to mitigate it.

While the Membership Council has been in existence for less than one year, during this time, Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, FAAOS, has led the Council in a number of important activities. These include: rolling out a new member value survey, reassessing AAOS membership benefits to identify new opportunities to better serve members, redesigning the membership area of the website, developing new membership policies and procedures, and crafting bylaws changes that will allow us to ensure that those who do not pay their dues will not enjoy the same Academy benefits as those who do. Additionally, the Membership Council approved applications for the Membership Class of 2021, which increased 9% over the Class of 2020.

On October 21, we will roll out Levels 1 and 2 of the Academy Leadership Institute (ALI). ALI was conceived nearly 18 months ago as an upgrade to the former Leadership Fellows Program (LFP). All high-functioning organizations invest in leadership development. This investment, like many others, may not yield dividends for several years; however, if organizations do not have the discipline and vision to develop leaders, then they cannot reach their full potential. During the pandemic, the ALI team, led by Todd Applebaum and Donna Malert, has been hard at work developing online learning modules and the infrastructure required for all members to understand how they can best serve and/or lead our organization. We should all be thankful for their efforts. More information will be forthcoming soon.

As you can see, AAOS has been busy working on its mission, in spite of the pandemic. Much of this work has flown beneath the radar as other pandemic-response related efforts were needed to assist members in a time of need. These efforts have received well-deserved accolades. I am sure that the next six months will present other unforeseen challenges that will need to be addressed. However, rest assured that we will continue to work on moving forward the Strategic Plan so that, when the pandemic is over, we will all emerge stronger than ever.

Thank you,

Joseph A. Bosco, III, MD, FAAOS
AAOS President