AAD President Abel Torres outlines challenges and opportunities for specialty

torres-abel.jpgAbel Torres, MD, JD, a Cleveland-based dermatologist and lawyer, took office as president of the Academy in March at the conclusion of the AAD’s 74th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Member to Member spoke with Dr. Torres about his priorities for the coming year.

MTM: What are the biggest challenges facing the specialty in 2016?

Dr. Torres: We’re facing several major challenges, including:

  1. Access to data, such as Medicare claims data, to support quality improvement and patient safety.
  2. Access to medication for our patients, as well as patient access to dermatologists.
  3. Insurance and government attempts to cut costs by equating care by non-dermatologists as adequate for our patients.
  4. Perceptions that dermatologic services are not a priority as compared with services offered by other physicians.

MTM: What opportunities can the Academy leverage to strengthen the specialty?

Dr. Torres: The Academy’s new clinical data registry, DataDerm, will play an important role in shaping the future of our specialty. One of my top priorities as president is to ensure that this powerful new tool is used by our members and performs at the top of its abilities. DataDerm will help us tackle many of the challenges we’re facing, including giving us access to the data that we need for quality improvement and patient safety, as well as information that will enable us to better address access to care issues.

Additionally, we need to focus on:

  • Utilizing our legislative advocacy efforts and working together with state societies to ensure our patients have access to medications and dermatologists.
  • Promoting through legislation and public education transparency of provider qualifications, so patients know who they’re receiving care from and the qualifications of those providers.
  • Launching our specialty positioning campaign, which will educate the public, government, and providers on the scope of services provided by dermatologists, as well as the significant advances and contributions we’re making in patient care.
  • Raising awareness in the media of the challenges facing our patients to ensure that the public is educated on these issues. For example, I don’t think the public realizes the scope of the problems related to drug pricing. The media has focused on a few sensational cases of skyrocketing prices of specific drugs. However, the public doesn’t seem to recognize that this is happening on a much wider scale and affecting many of our patients.

Read more from Dr. Torres in his inaugural From the President column in the April edition of Dermatology World.