Time really does fly! It has been my great privilege to serve as president of this amazing organization, and the year really has flown past, both literally (approximately 130,000 miles) and figuratively. It seems like only yesterday I was on another flight writing my very first column, asking for your help in keeping the ACR afloat despite my presidency. I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the hundreds of you volunteers who took me seriously and have stepped up and given so generously of your time, talents, money, and, of course, advice. It is because of many of you that the ACR has had another banner year and, importantly, it is only because of you that we will remain an organization that we can—and should—be proud of.
The space provided does not allow me to do justice to all the important things that have been accomplished this year, but I would like to highlight a few to give you a small glimpse into the depth and breadth of your ACR. I will try to do so with a few questions.
What Is a Rheumatologist?
How often do we hear this question or suffer because so many do not know? Simple Tasks, the powerful public relations campaign launched in 2011 by the ACR, is changing all that. As more and more of us wear our fork lapel pins (see photo at right) and explain rheumatology to the many who ask about them, the word is spreading. Certainly the folks on Capitol Hill know us by our forks. Additionally, when our pharmaceutical partners mention in their direct-to-consumer ads, “See your rheumatologist,” we have asked them to add “the specialist in rheumatic diseases” or a similar phrase. It is a big job, but we are making progress. Get a fork and wear it, you will see what I mean—people cannot resist asking about them!
Who Will Have the Data to Control Our Future?
Information and data are power. It has been said that whoever controls the information/data has the power. It is critically important that the ACR is in control. To this end, the ACR Registry and Health Information Technology Committee (RHIT) has made significant progress taking the next big step to assure that the ACR has this information. This year the Registry has been integrated with several electronic health records and this whole process is rapidly moving forward. Currently, the Registry is useful for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services documentation, practice-improvement modules, and benchmarking. Soon all of these functions will be dramatically expanded and made more seamless. We are working toward the day when the Registry will be useful for all of the above as well as multiple other functions, including research and postmarket surveillance. Most importantly, when it matures, the Registry will allow us to demonstrate the tremendous value that rheumatologist bring to the table.