Responding to challenges facing our specialty

From the President

Dirk Elston

Dr. Elston served as the Academy's president from March 5, 2013 until March 25, 2014.

Bookmark and Share

Our specialty faces significant challenges in the years ahead and your Academy will be there to respond. Where do dermatology practices fit into the changing health care environment? How will we face challenges to fair reimbursement and limited provider networks? How do we demonstrate the unique value of care provided by a board-certified dermatologist?

The pace of change is accelerating, and the AAD needs the appropriate resources to respond. This March the membership will vote on a proposal for the first dues increase in 10 years. I urge you to vote YES, to ensure that the AAD will have the resources it needs to remain an effective voice for our specialty and our patients.

The Academy has not asked for an increase in the past 10 years. The next 10 years will see greater change than we had in the past decade, and the AAD needs adequate resources to respond.

The Academy is our key provider of continuing education, ensuring that each of us can keep up-to-date with the latest innovations in our field. Increasingly, we need evidence-based guidelines to demonstrate to payers, policy makers, and the public that the care we provide is based on sound science. Our AAD has responded with guidelines for acne, melanoma, and psoriasis, along with appropriate use criteria for Mohs surgery; more guidelines, for atopic dermatitis, non-melanoma skin cancer, and office-based surgery, are on the way. We have doubled our offerings; in 2014 dermatologists will have almost 500 hours of Academy CME to choose from.

Our environment is changing rapidly and the AAD Association has expanded its D.C. presence to meet the advocacy needs of the specialty. This has allowed us to engage in federal and state advocacy efforts that have played an increasingly important role in how our specialty is practiced and perceived. Our Capitol Hill staff help protect the specialty’s interests as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is debated, and keeps us at the table as legislation that affects medicine is developed. Our D.C. team is actively engaged in issues like scope of practice, truth in advertising, medical research and education funding. [pagebreak]

Our federal regulatory staff has ensured that our voice is heard at CMS and also the FDA, where we have been successful in advocating for tighter rules for sunscreen labels and stronger classification of tanning beds. Our state affairs staff has traveled the country, working with many of you to argue for stricter regulations on indoor tanning; as a result, 40 states have adopted indoor tanning restrictions for minors, with some requiring parental consent and seven now banning the practice outright for those under 18.

Through public service advertising campaigns that have generated millions of dollars in free placements of our message, through the establishment of the SPOT Skin Cancer campaign, and through the expansion of Camp Discovery and sharing of the positive stories that result from it, the AAD has helped increase the number of times Americans hear about dermatology — from 700 million media impressions a decade ago to more than two billion. We are the experts in treating the skin, hair, and nails, and Americans know it in large part because of your AAD.

There are plenty of other developments: the Academy’s research agenda; the Leadership Institute, which trains our young dermatologists to be future leaders for our specialty; the new-and-improved Dermatology World and; and an array of practice tools to help you meet the changing demands of the practice of medicine. Please take all of these achievements into account as you consider the dues increase the Board of Directors has put on the ballot. With your support, the Academy will be positioned to face the challenges of a changing health care environment, evolving practice challenges, and new advocacy, educational, and outcomes measurement requirements to serve you and your patients. The next decade will be critical and we need to ensure that the AAD will continue to be an effective voice.