Once again, greetings from Dallas, Texas, USA where we welcome autumn’s relief from the summertime heat. It has been a very busy summer for the Scoliosis Research Society with the 19th annual International Meeting on Advanced Spine Techniques (IMAST) in Istanbul, Turkey was a big success, final preparations have been made for the 47th Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and many committees have completed their work (see the many accompanying committee reports). To all of the members of the SRS involved with this work, I sincerely thank you for your time and efforts. This will be my final newsletter to you as president, and I would like to summarize some of the more recent activities.
As you read this, our Annual Meeting in Chicago is about to begin. We have already confirmed a new record Annual Meeting attendance (1280 registrants). This outstanding response reflects our membership’s interest in high quality educational events. We’ll have the opportunity to see the best 129 abstracts presented from the podium, all from the pool of 1234 abstracts which were submitted. Many more presentations will be available in the electronic and paper poster format. A substantial number of registrants have signed up for the Pre-Meeting Course, Thursday’s Half-Day Courses, and Lunchtime Symposia. This overwhelming interest in extra educational sessions has lessened the demand for the usual afternoon recreational activities on Thursday. Nevertheless, for those interested in sightseeing in Chicago, we’ve reserved several opportunities. On Friday, the Farewell Reception, to be held at the Art Institute of Chicago, promises to be an enjoyable, but busy, evening with food, friends, and art. All in all, this year’s annual meeting will be an outstanding event. I especially thank Daniel J. Sucato, MD, MS (Program Committee Chair) and Mark B. Dekotowski and John Dimar (Education Committee Co-Chairs) for all of their work in preparing a wonderful program.
We have tremendous news from the CME Committee. On July 27th, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) granted provisional accreditation to the Scoliosis Research Society. This will now enable us to provide Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits for SRS-related educational activities. In the past, we’ve had to rely on outside agencies to provide our CME and therefore have had limited opportunities. We’ll start this new process by issuing the CME credits at next year’s Annual Meeting and IMAST, and will begin making preparations for increased opportunities for other SRS-related CME educational events such as webinars, E-Text reviews, tutorials, and international events such as worldwide courses. These will require some time to be organized properly, and will be done so over the course of the next two years, at which time we will be evaluated for reaccreditation. Congratulations go to Glenn R. Rechtine, II, MD; Lawrence G. Lenke, MD; Tressa Goulding, CAE, CMP and Courtney Kissinger for all of their detailed work in the pursuit of this accreditation.
The new SRS journal “Spine Deformity” has been making outstanding progress toward its formal initial publication date in January 2013. We will have the Preview Issue distributed during the Annual Meeting in Chicago, and you’ll get a sense of the high quality spinal deformity information that this journal will offer. John Lonstein, MD (Spine Deformity editor) has assembled an outstanding editorial board and reviewers. To this point in time, there have been 79 submissions. Seventeen articles will be published in the preview issue, seven other manuscripts have been accepted for the January issue, 22 more are being revised, and 25 manuscripts are currently under review. Through John’s enormous effort, this new “Official Journal of the SRS” promises to become the premier source of up-to-date information for spinal deformity.
Through the work of the Advocacy Committee, Joe O’Brien’s National Scoliosis Foundation, and SRS Program Manager, Brian Lueth, the SRS obtained an astounding forty formal State Proclamations signed by the Governors proclaiming June as Scoliosis Awareness Month. The benefit of this effort was to promote a high level of public awareness of scoliosis, and this was very successful. In addition, the Advocacy Committee (under the direction of Vishwas Talwalkar as Chair) completed a Pediatric Spine Deformity Fusion Indications Statement which can now be found under the Education Section in the Members Only portion of the SRS website. The adult spine deformity indications statement is forthcoming in the near future. These indications statements may be helpful to our members should they have the need to respond to inquiries from third party payers or policymakers regarding proposed treatment programs. Please take a moment to review this indications statement and be aware of its availability, should you need it.
In July, IMAST proved to be an overwhelming success in Istanbul, Turkey. Under the direction of Christopher Shaffrey, MD (IMAST Chair), his committee, and SRS Meetings Director, Megan Kelley, we had an outstanding program and social events. Nine-hundred sixty-one registrants came from around the world (33% from North America, 27% from the Asia Pacific, 24% Europe, 11% from Africa/Middle East, and 5% from South America). You can find more details under Dr. Shaffrey’s IMAST Report which is included in this newsletter. Once again, congratulations to Dr. Shaffrey and colleagues for an outstanding success. Please mark July 10-13, 2013 in your calendar for next year’s IMAST in Vancouver, Canada.
With the changing environment for healthcare and the increasing need to substantiate our proposed care for patients, we have moved forward with the concept of developing an Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) for lumbar degenerative scoliosis. Following our Board of Directors’ request, the widely respected RAND-UCLA organization submitted an outstanding proposal which was carefully reviewed, and subsequently approved. The American Academy of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) has joined us to make this a collaborative effort. Through the efforts of the Presidential Line, external funding for this project has been secured and the SRS will be responsible for just 10% of the expenses. Once this AUC for lumbar degenerative scoliosis has been completed, it may prove to be of substantial benefit to our members in future interactions with third party payers and policymakers. Work on this AUC will formally begin in the fall of 2012.
The SRS continues to work closely with the AAOS and, in particular, with its Board of Specialty Societies. To enhance our depth of interaction we have appointed four SRS members to be official BOS representatives (Baron S. Lonner, MD in Research, Mark Weidenbaum, MD in Education, Vishwas R. Talwalkar, MD in Health Policy, and Clifford B. Tribus, MD in Communications). This will allow our society to make a greater impact with the American Academy Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and other subspecialty societies in orthopaedics.
The Research, Education, and Outreach Fund (REO Fund), established one year ago as our society’s investment fund for designated giving and large donations, has been extremely beneficial. For those who make donations to the SRS, please know that our society is 1) in control of the entire REO Fund’s principal, and not just the yearly distributions, and 2) can control the percent distributions from the Fund for research and educational events. These two points represent advantages to the SRS when compared to the OREF. Regardless of your choice (REO Fund or OREF), the goal of the SRS leadership is to achieve 100% society participation in making a financial contribution to the SRS for research or education. Please consider making a donation to our REO Fund as it reflects well on your commitment to our society and provides important additional financial resources for many deserving research proposals.
I wish to close by expressing my deep gratitude to you for having the opportunity to serve as President for this past year. This allowed me to make acquaintances and friendships with many spine deformity surgeons throughout the world, oversee the global progress of our society, and try to enhance the SRS’ stature in spinal deformity care. I’m honored to have been given the chance to contribute to this wonderful society. The SRS Board of Directors is composed of members with great knowledge, expertise, organizational ability, and the desire to always improve the SRS. The SRS administrative staff, led by Tressa Goulding, CAE, CMP, is an exceptional group of people who work endlessly to make every aspect of this society successful. We are very fortunate to have them.
I especially thank Kamal N. Ibrahim, MD, FRCS(C), MA, Steven D. Glassman, MD and Lawrence G. Lenke, MD of the Presidential Line for all of their insightful advice and guidance during our weekly conference calls. Collectively, we have been able to reach decisions we feel have helped the SRS. President-Elect Kamal Ibrahim, MD, FRCS(C), MA, will assume the responsibilities of president at the conclusion of the 48th Annual Meeting and you can rest assured that he will do an excellent job in this capacity. Thank you for my opportunity to officially serve as the 42nd President of the Scoliosis Research Society.
My very best to you,
B. Stephens Richards, III, MD