By Daniel M. Siegel, MD, March 1, 2012
Thank you for the honor of being your president for the next year. I’m excited by this opportunity to serve the specialty of dermatology at a time when we face so many important challenges, and when so many exciting opportunities are within our grasp.
You may want to know what perspective I bring to this job. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and went to Stuyvesant High School. I’ve been practicing dermatology in Suffolk County since 1990. But in between, I headed to upstate New York, where I was in the six-year medical program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Albany Medical College with our outgoing president, Ronald Moy, MD. I then completed a residency in Dallas and a fellowship in Houston, followed by a year and a half on faculty in Dallas, after which I went to Vermont for two years before returning to New York.
Since coming home, I’ve still made my way around the country for dermatology. I started out serving on committees and task forces of the Academy early in my career, with some focus on payment policy issues. That led to Brett Coldiron, MD, calling me late in the 1990s and asking if I would serve on a new group being formed, the Practice Expense Advisory Committee, to provide information to the AMA Relative Value Update Committee, or RUC, regarding the money spent on what are called direct practice expense inputs — the gauze and tape and other supplies associated with each of thousands of CPT codes. I served on the PEAC for four years, after which I became the Academy’s representative on the RUC. I am proud of the work I did to help ensure that dermatologists and other physicians are paid accurately for what we do.
In addition to these experiences, you may know me as a frequent speaker on electronic health records and other technology-related topics. Long before anyone dreamed of government incentives to adopt EHRs, I was intrigued by the possibilities such computer technology might offer as well as the pitfalls I knew, or learned, would have to be avoided to make EHR use worthwhile for dermatologists and of benefit to our patients. Back in the early days, sessions on EHR were often hypothetical, or based on limited experiences, but today our specialty has seen significant EHR adoption. As your president during the year when the government offers the last possible opportunity to earn the maximum meaningful use bonus for adopting an EHR — $44,000 over five years for Medicare participants — I will be active in ensuring that we continue to provide the guidance you need to make the right choice. From in-person sessions at the Annual Meeting in San Diego, including a demonstration of different systems, to the Academy’s online HIT-Kit, available at www.aad.org/hitkit, the Academy can help you figure if the time for you to adopt is now.
Of course, the continuing impact of health system reform on dermatologists and our patients is another critical issue I will monitor as your president. We will all watch with interest as the Supreme Court weighs the law this spring, and as the American people consider it as part of this fall’s election. Whatever the outcome of the case and the vote, the Academy will work to ensure that you have the resources you need to deal with the coming change.
Indeed, the Academy offers a wealth of resources to help you meet the challenges of practice, from webinars on coding issues (see www.aad.org/webinars to register) to programs that help you to fulfill the components of the American Board of Dermatology’s Maintenance of Certification program (see www.aad.org/education-and-quality-care/moc for more information).
The coming year will be an exciting one. Dr. Moy and I will be available in the AAD’s booth in the exhibit hall in San Diego on Monday, March 19 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and I welcome you to stop by and share your thoughts with us.