A Word from the President
The Annual Scientific Meeting, year after year, brings together the top experts in allergy, asthma and immunology from around the globe. At the 2018 meeting, Nov. 15 – 19 in Seattle, two all-new sessions will let you get up close and personal with some of these leaders. You’ll want to plan ahead for this fantastic, intimate new format.
We’ve spent countless hours redesigning the Annual Scientific Meeting to give you an all-new experience this year. With 90-minute sessions, new formats and easier-to-attend events, it’s going to be a meeting you won’t want to miss. Another new feature this year? The Saturday Presidential Plenary.
Food allergy has always been a hot topic for both allergists and patients. It’s a highly life-altering allergy to live with, so naturally patients have a lot of concerns and questions. There are several new treatment modalities coming into play, so allergists have a lot of questions as well. It’s also a topic that gets a lot of attention in the press, who cover everything from allergy bans to reactions due to kissing. As a result, there are a lot of ‘myths’ and misinformation floating around in the cultural consciousness.
We’re all familiar with the classic wooden yardstick, a tool you always want to have around. What exactly do wooden rulers have to do with medicine? Yardsticks, in this context, represent a standard guideline, a touchstone, a point of reference. The College is dedicated to developing yardsticks to help guide your patient treatment decisions. College member experts and others work together to author these helpful tools. The College yardsticks include:
As Bela Schick said, “First the patient, second the patient, third the patient, fourth the patient, fifth the patient, and then maybe comes science.
In years past, patients didn’t question doctors. That’s not the case anymore. Our patients engage in their health care. They are informed. They come to their appointments and tell us about new treatments they’ve heard about and want to know if those treatments are right for them.
Our role is one of informing versus telling. Informing our patients of the risks and benefits of any treatment can only help them make the right decision for them.
It’s a new year and a new round of headaches in obtaining prior authorizations for our patients’ medications. Let’s look at three issues practicing allergists face every day and especially at the start of each year.
First, formularies change frequently, and especially in January after insurance companies have made new deals with employers for coverage. I hope you like solving puzzles, because each insurance company likely has a new set of prior authorization rules – and it’s up to allergy practices to figure them out. This results in needing to, yet again, get prior authorizations for existing patients to continue their medications, or be shifted to different medications which are now covered because the ones they were previously on are no longer covered. Is your head spinning yet?
Not everyone is naturally comfortable being a leader. And that’s only one reason why the College is hosting its Leadership Summit, Generation Next, for the second year in a row. The Summit, which is for allergists 45 years or younger or who have been in practice 10 years or less, is designed to help young, up-and-coming allergists get more involved in the College. It’s also a great way to take home important leadership skills tailored specifically for allergists.
During my year as president, we will embrace the theme of this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting – Precision Medicine in Allergy Practice. Our main goal is to educate allergists to improve their patients’ clinical outcomes. We are going to guide you in the application of very expensive new technologies and how they can be used to determine the phenotypes and endotypes in asthma and atopic dermatitis.
Following are just some of the ways we are looking ahead with precision.
We will continue to produce yardsticks. The atopic dermatitis yardstick will be published in the January issue of Annals. The pediatric severe asthma yardstick will be submitted for publication in early 2018. We have implemented a taskforce to determine the topics for future yardsticks.
In previous Insider articles I have commented on our Vision 2020 strategic initiative in general terms, highlighting the major changes that have taken place since its implementation began in 2015. After three years, all the new parts are up and running at full throttle, including our re-vamped governance structure, our website (including our online educational portal called the College Learning Connection), and the Advocacy Council. In addition, our flagship journal – the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology - just finished its own major tune-up and is cruising in a new direction.
Three months ago, I reported in this column that the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology had changed course, including re-hiring Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, FACAAI as editor-in-chief and adding Donald Leung, MD, FACAAI as executive editor. I stated that our intent is to raise the impact factor enough for the Annals to increase its ranking as a top tier allergy journal while retaining its appeal to the practicing allergist.
Accomplishing this would be no small feat given the superb journals that already serve the specialty. The College feels strongly that our goals for the Annals are realistic, and that there is a desirable niche that is not yet occupied.