A Word from the President
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.
As I suspect most of you have heard, there was a recent fatality during a supervised oral food challenge in a three-year-old boy in Alabama. As a grandfather, I can only imagine the grief his family and friends are enduring. I also feel for the traumatic effect this may have had on the team of health care professionals involved with his care. As reported in a joint communication between the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, we do not know the critical details of this event.
As you may have noticed, registration has begun for the College’s upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center on Oct. 26-30. Located in Boston’s Back Bay, the venue is the perfect size and location for the College meeting. We are especially excited this year because we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the College while embracing the theme of “Precision Medicine in Allergy Practice”.
They say that “everything happens for a reason” and “somehow good things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” These themes come to mind over the past two months with respect to the editorial team of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. As you may recall, Gailen Marshall Jr., MD, Phd, FACAAI, had planned on stepping down on January 1, 2018, after an unprecedented 12 years as editor-in-chief (EIC) of the Annals. Last year, after a thorough nationwide search led by Bryan Martin, DO, FACAAI, the College proudly announced Rohit Katial, MD, FACAAI, as the incoming EIC. However, after several months of Annals transition planning, Dr. Katial was lured away from academics to pursue an exciting new career opportunity. This meant he could not assume the Annals EIC role in 2018. The College completely understood Dr.
We live in unsettled times. The fate of our health care system is up in the air, the majority of physicians are burned out, and our specialty’s traditional private practice model has become a less attractive option for young allergy/immunology specialists. Even practice parameters, the low-drama evidence-based tools that many of us refer to regularly, are changing dramatically. In addition to serving as a practical reference for practicing allergy/immunology specialists, practice parameters have gained increasing importance as tools used by third party payers.
Attempting to document continued competency in medical practice is challenging, not just for allergy/immunology, but also for all the primary specialties and sub-specialties served by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). I initially hesitated to devote a College Insider column to Maintenance of Certification (MOC). In part because it is a hot button area for some of our members, but also because of my own conflict of interest as a member of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). However, significant changes are taking place in the ABAI MOC process that I believe are of interest to College members, including the emergence of inherent flexibility of certain MOC requirements. I therefore decided to share my perspective.
We are at the halfway mark of implementation of the College’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. Major infrastructure changes are in place, and there are clear signs that we have moved in a healthy direction. For example, the revamped Annual Meeting planning process is thriving and committees are revitalized. The Advocacy Council has matured into a distinguished, nimble, highly effective team, and every month more than 750,000 members of the public visit the College website. Last year there were 175,000 searches using our revamped “Find an Allergist” tool). So far, so good.
As part of our reform in 2014, the College redefined the role of the Advocacy Council (AC) as the branch of governance that “keeps practicing allergists abreast of critical socioeconomic and regulatory issues, assists in resolving complex payment disputes, monitors and lobbies state and federal elected officials and government agencies, and represents the profession before payers, managed care and other health care entities”. As a “Council,” the AC answers to the Board of Regents, but do not be fooled by its apparent subordinate position in our organizational structure. In fact, the AC functions in a nearly independent capacity to take on the many complex challenges facing our specialty in 2017.