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New President Berry sees opportunity amid challenges

“My number one goal,” said Daniel J. Berry, MD, “is to respond to the needs of the AAOS fellowship, and to do so in a way that’s responsible to both our profession and to our patients.”

When asked about his plans for the coming year, Dr. Berry, who assumed the presidency during yesterday’s ceremonial meeting, emphasized his belief that AAOS leadership should maintain stability and take into account the needs of the membership as a whole.

AAOS President Daniel J. Berry, MD, takes the stage with his children Charlotte and John.

“Of course, I have strategic priorities that I’d like to accomplish,” he explained, “but one of the things I intend to stress during my leadership is that the president of the AAOS should carry on the agenda of the AAOS. I think it’s important that each president work in concert with what’s been done in the past and try to keep the general direction of the AAOS on a relatively stable course.”

Ongoing focus on quality
One example of that direction is Dr. Berry’s plan to continue the Academy’s emphasis on quality—a stated theme of his predecessor, John J. Callaghan, MD, and a topic that has become more important across all medical disciplines in recent years.

“We need to continue to work on the quality agenda that Dr. Callaghan laid out,” he said. “A lot of progress can still be made in that arena. As we move forward, we’re learning what works and where we can invest our resources most wisely.

“More and more, physicians are going to be called upon to provide transparent information about quality of care. We need to learn how to measure quality and be able to compare it across different practices in ways that are meaningful and fair. And that means that we need to develop proper means of stratifying risk so that our comparisons are useful for decision-making.”

In addition, Dr. Berry said that AAOS should leverage recent advances in technology and communications to improve both orthopaedic education and surgical training.

“We need to take advantage of the huge revolution taking place in information technology,” he said. “It has unbelievable potential for orthopaedic surgeons, both as an educational tool and as a way for surgeons to access orthopaedic information quickly and easily. This spring, the AAOS Board of Directors will be holding the second of two workshops to examine how we can help every one of our members take advantage of these advances.”

Challenges and opportunities
Dr. Berry believes that responding to politically driven changes to healthcare delivery will be an important factor in the coming year. He noted that the 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was only the beginning of a long process that has yet to play out—a process in which orthopaedic surgeons can continue to perform an important role.

“Although PPACA passed, the legislation is still evolving and most of the implementation details will be finalized during the writing of rules and regulations related to the legislation,” he explained. “This is an area in which we as orthopaedists should be intimately involved. How the law is interpreted will have a great impact on our patients and our practices.

“Our office of government relations has done a great job over the last several years during the legislative process, and it needs to continue that effort as the regulatory side of healthcare reform continues to unfold.”

In addition to the Academy’s institutional efforts, Dr. Berry encourages orthopaedic surgeons to find an area of involvement in which they can make a contribution. Efforts are needed not just in advocacy, but across a wide spectrum of activities.

“It’s always important for AAOS members to be involved in areas for which they feel passion,” he said. “For some people, that area of passion will be advocacy. There are great opportunities at the local, state, and national levels, as well as with the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee.

“But for others, their area of passion might be education or communications or research. The number of people interested in becoming involved as volunteers on AAOS committees always exceeds the number of open positions. I encourage those who apply to maintain their interest even if they are not selected at first. We hope most of them will eventually have the opportunity to participate.”

A force for unity
Finally, Dr. Berry stressed the need for unity in orthopaedics. The AAOS, as he sees it, serves as a valuable unifying force across many orthopaedic specialties.

“At all times, unity is going to remain one of the most important things that we work on as an organization,” he said. “I mean unity in the broadest sense, across all orthopaedic specialty organizations, with sister organizations such as the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation and the American Orthopaedic Association, and across borders to reach international affiliates.

“One of the strengths of the Academy is our large constituency of international members,” he continued, “and we also have an important international presence. As medical systems in a greater number of countries advance in their ability to deliver high-quality medical care, more orthopaedic surgeons from those areas will potentially be interested in what AAOS has to offer, from the standpoints of both education and effective use of technology.

“Of all specialties, orthopaedics offers the opportunity to make the most dramatic impact on patients’ lives,” he concluded. “What other specialty allows you to meet a patient, go through a few hours of surgery, and completely transform what that person is able to do for the rest of his or her life? That is, I think, a special opportunity, and a wonderful gift.”

Interview by Peter Pollack, staff writer for AAOS Now.

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