Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, newly elected as the Academy's incoming president-elect in the 2014 AAD election, recently discussed his vision for the organization with our editorial staff. Dr. Torres will assume the office of president-elect at the close of the 2015 Annual Meeting.
AAD: What led you to seek the office of AAD president?
Having served on the AAD Board of Directors has increased my awareness of the many challenges facing our specialty. A great deal of these challenges revolve around government regulations. With my background as a lawyer, accepting the nomination to serve as AAD president seemed like the next logical step to make a lasting contribution to dermatology.
AAD: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the specialty?
Dr. Torres: Three of the biggest challenges that face the specialty of dermatology are:
- the increased trend by non-core dermatology providers to provide dermatology services that put our patients at risk;
- the increased intrusion into the practice of medicine by the government and insurance companies, using the justification of decreasing costs; and
- the fragmentation of our patient and physician advocacy and education efforts by the lack of unity of our dermatology societies and interest groups.
AAD: How do you intend to lead the Board of Directors in addressing these challenges?
Dr. Torres: We have a pretty impressive group of board members. Our current incoming slate is representative of the talent that exists. Yet, no one member has all the answers. I see my role as motivating our board members to work in a transparent fashion with each other and carefully listening for those glimpses of genius that each member is capable of.
AAD: The Affordable Care Act, physician payment reform, and other issues have caused seismic shifts in the health care landscape, not to mention headaches for AAD members. How can our members turn these challenges into opportunities? How do you see the AAD helping?
Dr. Torres: The lack of an SGR fix is a great example of a challenge that can be transformed into opportunity. It is a ticking time bomb that threatens all physicians and our patients. It is disappointing that we came so close to bipartisan support, and yet, repeal failed in the end. That same near-success should teach us that it is possible to change the health care landscape. The AAD has been doing a great job encouraging our legislators to make this change. We need to double our efforts in this regard, particularly getting our members to understand how close they came to making a difference and how active member engagement can turn the tide. Strengthening our state society relationships is one way that we can improve our membership’s engagement.