Daniel J. Berry, MD, Reflects on Presidency

Maureen Leahy

When he began his term as the 79th president of the AAOS, Daniel J. Berry, MD, had two main objectives: to foster the strategic goals set forth by his predecessors, and to invest in new opportunities.

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Daniel J. Berry, MD

“Consistency of purpose, fused with understanding the need to pounce on good ideas at just the right moment, has served the AAOS incredibly well for the past 78 years,” Dr. Berry said when he assumed the presidency.

AAOS Now spoke with Dr. Berry about the strides the Academy has made over the past year under his leadership, and about the rewards and challenges he encountered.

AAOS Now: What were your goals as AAOS president?
Dr. Berry:
My goals as president were to keep the AAOS on a steady course with regard to the important programs that were already underway and in place, and at the same time to look for areas in which we could take advantage of new opportunities and use them to build the AAOS and make it even stronger.

AAOS Now: What are some of the new opportunities you identified?
Dr. Berry:
One of the areas that I—along with First Vice-President John R. Tongue, MD, and Second Vice-President Joshua J. Jacobs, MD—believed would present new opportunities was the use of technology in education and communication. The board of directors spent a lot of time working on this; we held two workshops on the topic, and a project team, under the leadership of Mininder S. Kocher, MD, MPH, has developed several good ideas for using technology in these areas.

In addition, new opportunities always exist for improving how we communicate with one another and continue to knit ourselves together as an orthopaedic community. We worked very hard on unity this year—through the Board of Councilors (BOC), the Board of Specialty Societies (BOS), the specialty societies, state societies, and sister societies. Like my predecessors, I believe unity is something we must continually focus on. Being the glue that holds the orthopaedic community together is an extremely important role of the AAOS.

Unity is important for keeping the orthopaedic profession as strong as possible, but the real payoff, of course, is for our patients. A dynamic orthopaedic profession that moves forward rapidly can provide more for its patients, such as innovative treatments. Keeping our profession strong benefits our patients—we are able to provide them much more in both the short and the long terms.

AAOS Now: What was most rewarding about being AAOS
Dr. Berry:
To me, it’s the opportunity to help advance the orthopaedic profession. Being intimately involved in the strategic process and planning of different AAOS programs means you are moving the profession in a direction that is good for all of our members, as well as for all of our patients.

AAOS Now: What were some of the challenges you encountered?
Dr. Berry:
I think the advocacy arena is filled with challenges and this year was no exception. Many of the challenges we confronted were attempts to shape the regulatory efforts that have resulted from passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I need to give credit to our Council on Advocacy and our office of government relations in Washington, D.C.—they have done a superb job dealing with those challenges.

The AAOS has also seen a decline in some traditional revenue sources this year. Revenue from print media, which historically has been an important source of revenue for the AAOS, has dramatically decreased. As a result, we are challenged to find alternatives to traditional print media, not only as a source of revenue, but also as a way to provide quality information and education to our members. This is where some of the communications technology and electronic media I mentioned earlier could be quite important.

Every AAOS president also has to deal with what I refer to as “events of the day.” Events that stimulated media interest this year included concerns about metal-on-metal hip replacements and bone morphogenetic proteins. I think the AAOS did an excellent job of responding to these events by providing good, responsible information to the media and to our membership. Importantly, the AAOS was able to accomplish this without being sidetracked from dealing with strategic issues at the Board level and at volunteer, specialty, and BOC levels.

Dealing with the constant stream of sustainable growth rate short-term fixes and finding ways to more effectively solve the medical liability problems in this country are ongoing challenges. In addition, our professional compliance program has come under attack, and conflicts of interest within the orthopaedic profession continue to be scrutinized. Under the leadership of Kenneth E. DeHaven, MD, the Committee on Outside Interests has made great strides in developing a standardized approach for providing and managing conflict of interest disclosures.

AAOS Now: What advice do you have for Dr. Tongue, the incoming president?
Dr. Berry:
The year goes by fast. Let your colleagues know what you hope to collectively accomplish during the year and get everyone thinking on the same page as quickly as possible.

You can never pay too much attention to keeping the whole orthopaedic community working together and pulling the oars in the same direction. Therefore, it is very important to maintain as much communication as possible with all the subgroups within the AAOS.

Lastly, enjoy all the opportunities that come with a leadership position. You get to work with many tremendously talented people and you can accomplish a lot by building good relationships with them.