I am truly humbled and honored to be the 100th President of the AATS. This organization has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the practice of cardiothoracic surgery. We are very proud of our legacy of education, scholarship, and research. Our vision for the future needs to magnify this legacy to include an expanding field of cardiothoracic surgery which will encompass new approaches to structural heart disease, new immunotherapies for lung and mediastinal tumors, and genetic and stem cell therapies in congenital heart disease. With these new treatment strategies, our training paradigms will need to reflect and keep current with our changing specialty. We are currently working with the ABTS for consideration of the best way our trainees may acquire the necessary skills to practice in the 21st century.
Reflective of these changes, I believe our 99th Annual Meeting in Toronto was a huge success. Changing the format to allow more attendee participation, more breakout rooms for closer interaction with the masters in surgery, the technical and innovation presentations, and the high quality of the abstracts, made for an exciting meeting. Much of the credit goes to David Adams, our immediate Past President, who encouraged us to think outside the box in planning the 99th meeting. David and the Program Committee restructured the format to be more inclusive of the membership. This year we had more member participation than ever in the program as either a presenter or abstract reviewer. I would like to recognize all those who contributed to making Toronto a huge success. Your dedication is sincerely appreciated.
We will continue this popular format for our 2020 meeting in New York, combining the masters in surgery, cardiology, and pulmonary in breakouts to highlight the most up-to-date information and technology in our practice today.
Of course, New York will be an exciting place to gather and exchange these ideas. I look forward to broad participation both nationally and globally as we meet in this international city.
In the spirit of spreading knowledge and improving cardiothoracic surgery across the globe, our Association has started two new open-access journals, both from the same editorial team that produces the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, and both with the same rigorous standards for peer review.
JTCVS Open focuses on developments in acquired cardiac surgery, congenital cardiac repair, thoracic procedures, heart and lung transplantation, mechanical circulatory support, and perioperative management, while JTCVS Techniques offers high-quality case reports, innovative techniques, and cardiothoracic images in video and multimedia formats. The videos in particular are vital for demonstrating techniques.
Both publications offer young surgeons and experienced veterans alike a way to stay at the forefront of our field. And, true to our overall mission, they are accessible to members and non-members alike.
Quality Assessment Program
As always, we’re working to help good surgeons get even better. To that end, we’re developing an improved database system for assessing outcomes. In the past, entering data has been a cumbersome process involving hundreds of variables, making data often incomplete. Work on the AATS Quality Assessment Program (AQAP) that was presented in Toronto is ongoing. We are committed to developing a modern, collaborative quality improvement platform that will improve data collection and
transformation, provide real-time data analytics, benchmark metrics for decision support processes, and collaboration capabilities. Given the importance of this project to the specialty, we will explore a collaboration with STS in a joint meeting planned later this summer. Drs. David Adams, Eugene Blackstone, Jeffrey Rich, Julie Swain, and Mr. Ken McCardle have been invaluable in this process, and I want to thank them for their ingenuity and dedication to this considerable task.
Three Years and Beyond
At our coming meeting in September, the Board and I will focus on creating a new three-year strategic plan for the organization and our vision for the future. We look forward to fostering research and scholarship and to continuing to build a membership that is rich in diverse points of view and innovative thinking.
This is an exciting time for all of us. I look forward to taking the next leaps forward in thoracic surgery together.