It is truly an honor and privilege to serve as the president of NASS. I had the opportunity this past month to visit NASS headquarters in Burr Ridge and meet with many of the 58 employees who form the working core of the organization. I remain tremendously impressed with the background, skill and dedication of the staff. As a NASS member, I feel fortunate to have such a professional group working on my behalf to achieve the mission of NASS. During the visit, one of the senior staff asked me what my goals and objectives were for my term as president. My answer is simple. My job, and the job of every volunteer in the organization, is to serve the mission of NASS.
I think it is useful to periodically remind ourselves what the mission of NASS is and to survey our activities to make sure that we remain mission centric in our strategic and operational planning: The North American Spine Society (NASS) is a global multidisciplinary medical society that utilizes education, research and advocacy to foster the highest quality, ethical, value- and evidence-based spine care for patients.
To achieve this mission, NASS has adopted a number of strategies which are incorporated into the bylaws of the organization. According to the bylaws, NASS has the following purposes:* To improve the quality of scientific knowledge and pursuit of high standards of excellence in patient care, clinical practice and related sciences among professionals in the field of spinal disorders.
Through our Research Council, NASS has created a mechanism for in-depth evaluation of the scientific literature which results in the production of clinical practice guidelines, appropriate use criteria, and, in collaboration with the health policy council, evidence informed recommendations for payer policy. Through this activity, gaps and deficiencies in our evidence base are exposed. NASS actively promotes the performance of scientific research to fill these gaps through directed research grants funded currently through the operational budget. In the next year, we hope to transition research funding from the operational budget to the NASS Foundation. Research funding is simply too important to be dependent on the vicissitudes of the operational budget.
To advance the science of clinical spine care, NASS has been developing a registry product for the last eight years. I am pleased to announce that the registry is finally ready for launch and will be launched well prior to the September 2018 scientific meeting. The design of the registry is flexible, the costs are low and the intent is to capture information regarding the vast majority of patients with spinal disorders who do not fit into neat diagnostic boxes or participate in randomized clinical trials. * To maintain an educational organization dedicated to the exchange of ideas and dissemination of scientific facts concerning the spine.
The multidisciplinary nature of NASS makes it the ideal forum for the exchange of ideas regarding spine care. In addition to our annual meeting, NASS sponsors and participates in multiple satellite meetings across the world, particularly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Our international presence has grown substantially and NASS representatives attend well over 40 international meetings this year. At this year’s annual meeting, we will be increasing our efforts towards building relationships with colleagues from around the world, specifically recognizing the similarities and differences in training background, clinical experience and cultural expectations.
The Health Policy Council and the Advocacy Council are charged with disseminating scientific facts concerning the spine and spine care to our members, payers and policy makers here in North America. Payer policy recommendations are created using the best scientific evidence available. These are both pushed out to insurers and are available for use by NASS members when payer policy runs contrary to the best evidence. Several thousand of these documents have been downloaded by NASS members and the process of updating and creating new documents is one of the most important member services that NASS offers. In the coming year we anticipate adding about 25 new documents to the library. * To provide instruction, scientific meetings and professional publications for surgical, nonoperative and diagnostic purposes related to the spine.
As many of you know, Gene Carragee is stepping down after a tremendously productive decade at the helm of The Spine Journal
). This past year NASS leadership conducted a national search and Chris Bono has accepted our offer to become the next editor in chief of TSJ
. In the coming year, Chris and Gene will work together to ensure a smooth transition and Chris has been charged with expanding the scale and scope of TSJ
through a number of potential international outreach efforts, supporting development of an open access journal, and the reorganization and expansion of the editorial compliment. He will do this all while maintaining and improving TSJ’s
stature as the most selective and cited journal in the field of spine care. After that he will be assigned to aid in the middle east peace process. *This is an excerpt from a column that originally appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of SpineLine. To read the full column, click here.