As one might have expected, this was a business meeting that ran on an agenda with more time allotted to items of greater controversy or importance. The ACR divides its activities into three categories: survival functions, core functions, and discretionary functions. One of the survival functions is the yearly scientific meeting, and there was considerable discussion about how to improve the quality of the meeting. SessionSelect, a reproduction of scientific presentations available online after the meeting, was judged a great success, although it was expensive. Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, MD, DrPH, chair of the Committee on Education, submitted a discretionary project to fund SessionSelect, and I hope it will be funded again for this year’s meeting.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueMay 2009
Also By This Author
Likewise, the poster tours had such high demand with great reviews that they will be expanded this year. Dr. Ramsey-Goldman also announced her committee’s commitment to increase the number of practicing rheumatologists on the meeting planning committees from the current 20% to 33%, which should help ensure that the meeting fully addresses the needs of our practice members.
Checking on Quality, Task Forces
Perhaps the largest block of time was devoted to a discussion of quality issues. Quality of Care Committee Chair Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH, reviewed ongoing strategies that the ACR has pursued to help reduce the work of reporting quality measures. The committee budget and projects were presented and debated. The issue of an ACR quality-recognition program was reviewed at great length. The thinking here is that rheumatologists, not carriers, may be best qualified to decide who provides quality rheumatologic care. Because this was such a controversial item that raised many difficult questions, it was felt a task force was needed to examine the feasibility.
We heard a presentation from the American Society of Clinical Oncology on how they approach quality in oncology and later heard that the Rheumatology Clinical Registry will be rolled out later this year. This will be an online tool that members can utilize to help record and store data for American Board of Internal Medicine practice improvement modules (also known as PIMs), Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, and various other quality-measure reporting requirements.
There were a number of task force reports presented, including Pain Management and Diversity. After strengthening the language, we approved a position statement submitted by the Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Task Force regarding the proper methodology for the ANA test. The position emphasizes the preeminence of the immunofluorescent ANA as the gold-standard methodology. The adoption of this position by the ACR should help advocacy efforts to encourage clinical laboratories around the country to improve their methodology. The issue had come up because a practice member, John Goldman, MD, had complained to the ACR that many laboratories in the country were performing the ANA with methodology that did not have the specificity or sensitivity of the immunofluorescent ANA.