This past week, I joined a cross-section of AATS members for discussions on strategic planning, program planning for the 100th Annual Meeting, and the quarterly Board meeting. The common thread in the various discussions was the dedication to improving the treatment of cardiothoracic diseases. That was the objective of the founders of the AATS and now, more than 100 years later, that is the guiding principle we follow to improve the care of our patients.
That focus is a driving force behind the investment we are making into the AATS Quality Assessment Program (QAP). Our aim is to:
• Build a resource that studies the disease and improves outcome measures.
• Simplify data collection to improve the accuracy and quality of the data.
• Serve all areas of the specialty, as well as multidisciplinary areas.
• Give contributors access to their own data.
• Provide a collaborative space for surgeons around the world to engage.
After weighing all the of the information, the AATS Board and I have approved investing the time and financial resources necessary to create a program that will provide the data that healthcare professionals need to improve the outcomes of their cardiothoracic patients, and the risk information that those patients want when they are weighing their options. Profit is not the focus, and while the plan is to recoup the initial investment, the goal will be to provide the most useful data, while minimizing costs. We will reinvest future income to ensure the program is able to adjust to the rapidly evolving needs of the specialty.
One of the important aspects of QAP is that it involves other specialties that treat cardiothoracic disease. In our various discussions, it became apparent that our educational efforts need to include multidisciplinary content as well. That direction will be evident in the Annual Meeting program that has started to take shape and will be finalized in December when we review the abstracts. I encourage all of you to submit an abstract before the deadline on October 15.
In our strategic planning, we looked at ways to improve how we share the knowledge presented at our meetings. Plans are in the works to use technology to reach more people, including potentially streaming parts of the Annual Meeting to those who are unable to attend due to budget and time constraints. In addition, we are partnering with other organizations to add courses to their meetings to make it easier for people to attend.
There was a lot of discussion on improving member engagement and providing more participation opportunities. We are looking at developing programs to better outline the pathways to leadership for new members as well as members who have not been able to contribute as much as they would like. A key aspect of this will be improved communications. I am committed to regularly updating you through messages like this, the newsletter, and the website. We will also pursue new avenues of communication to ensure that all of you know what is happening in your Association.
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