As I begin my presidential term, I would first like to thank each of you, colleagues and friends, for the honor of serving you during 2010–2011. I know that the upcoming year will bring many challenges and changes, especially related to new federal laws and regulations. You can rest assured that the ACR is committed to promoting the needs of the profession, our membership, and especially our patients during these rapidly changing times.
My decisions and priorities as president will be guided by the new ACR strategic plan, which is available for review at www.rheumatology.org. This modernized plan, developed by ACR members and staff, includes updated goals and strategies and a new, concise mission statement that will lead us through 2012.
The mission, “Advancing Rheumatology,” is inclusive enough to comfortably encompass the concerns of our diverse membership. Staying strategic and working with the plan will help us advance rheumatology in our ever-changing healthcare environment and to prepare the ACR to respond effectively to what’s ahead. In this column, I want to highlight a few of the many ACR projects that I believe will strategically move the ACR forward in its mission to advance rheumatology. This sampling of projects reflects the variety of levels at which ACR is working to improve the practice of rheumatology—from national policy to the rheumatology clinic.
Despite the fact that few rheumatologists characterize themselves as “pain physicians, pain is such an important and cross-cutting aspect of our clinical care that the Board of Directors has approved an initiative for all ACR committees to begin incorporating pain issues into their priorities for the upcoming year.
Rheumatology at the Macro Level
In November, you were introduced to our new Influencing the Influencers public relations (PR) campaign. The PR campaign will advance rheumatology by providing awareness and understanding of our specialty to key stakeholders who have direct influence in the healthcare environment. Key stakeholders include the national legislators and policymakers, administration officials, advocacy leaders, and physician groups. This campaign, along with our current government affairs activities, will continue building relationships to reiterate the message of who rheumatologists are, what we do, and how we provide effective care for our patients. The goal of our efforts is the improved valuation and influence of our subspecialty on those developing public policy.
Impact of Federal Policies on Rheumatology Practice
The ACR is staying actively involved in evaluating our rapidly changing healthcare environment. The Government Affairs Committee is monitoring the Federal Register to review and comment on newly released regulations that may affect payment reform options and demonstration projects.