Yes, “The Times, They Are A-changin”… but so are we!!

“The Times They Are A-changin”…  That’s how I began my presidential inaugural address last year, and guess what? They are still changing!  This theme underscored virtually everything we did this past year. Let me very briefly review where we are…

We began the year with a major legislative victory in that the SGR was repealed, and in its place is a more complicated program affecting physician payment, MACRA.  I am finishing my year by appointing a work group of experts to better understand the new law and help translate it for our members. Stay tuned on that front.

Numerous issues arose during the year, ranging from over-the-counter contraception, home births, Planned Parenthood, TRAP laws, midwifery, Zika and many more. We have such an amazing staff in Practice and Communications…we were able to issue timely and meaningful statements about all of these issues and keep informed debate going on the national level about these and other important topics.

Last May I outlined the three main areas of focus of my initiatives: our patients, our specialty and our organization. We’ve made great progress in all three areas.

Excellent work was done by three separate workgroups that addressed physician burnout, tobacco and obesity.  In a changing world of accountable care and integrated physician networks, these topics are more important than ever. From the perspective of our patients’ health, and that of future generations, these are also extremely important areas on which to focus.

I’d like to thank the members of these work groups, and our staff, for their tireless efforts to bring us toolkits that will help us address these issues.  In particular, the work group leaders, Dr. Mark Woodland on Wellness issue, Dr/ Laurie Gregg on Obesity and Dr. Sharon Phelan on Tobacco Cessation, along with many dedicated ACOG staff, along with Dr Chris Zahn, our Practice VP. Thank you all.

New resources will be unveiled at this Annual Meeting and on our website, and we will provide our members with tools with which they can address obesity and smoking in their practices in the hopes of making a real difference for our patients.

To address physician wellness and burnout, we have just scratched the surface. ACOG has committed to this critical topic in a very real way.  In addition to the excellent work done by the Wellness Work Group, we have created a standing subcommittee on the national Patient Safety/Quality Improvement committee to monitor this topic and continue to work on keeping our members healthy.

Now, let me just focus the rest of my report today on the Strategic Planning initiative that has consumed most of this past year.  As many of you know, this was the third time in the past 15 years or so that we tackled Strategic Planning, but this was the most ambitious and far reaching project we’ve conducted in this area.

A major difference from previous initiatives is that this year we went beyond the Board itself and included senior staff members from ACOG, many of whom have years of experience within ACOG, to add the benefit of that experience to our discussions.

We began the process just before last year’s Annual Meeting, with surveys and interviews with various members.  Then last July’s entire board meeting was devoted to significant brain-storming resulting in the definition of four work groups with related advisory panels. These covered Member Needs, Fiscal Issues, Data Issues and Governance.  In addition, once we had various options for change identified, we took it on the road to all Interim Meetings.  This gave us the opportunity to be sure Section leadership also had input into some of the changes being discussed, especially those that affected Sections and Districts.

To no one’s surprise, the Governance area sparked the most discussion – and the hardest work. We had some of the most interesting and lively board meetings that we’ve seen in a long time…to say the least! Woodrow Wilson once said “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”  Well, I’m happy to report that while I have not made any “enemies,” we have had an exciting year!  We have forged a series of recommendations that will better equip ACOG to face the challenges of the future, maintain relevance for our members and ensure that we will be what we need to be, not only in 2020, but for many years beyond.

I’d like to thank all the Board members and our ACOG staff who worked so tirelessly on this important project, and I look forward to watching the new Strategic Plan get implemented over the next several years.  Hal Lawrence has done an amazing job in keeping ACOG moving forward, and now will be responsible for implementing all the great ideas that have come from the Strategic Planning initiative.

Our immediate future is certainly very bright… Dr. Tom Gellhaus will be stepping up on Tuesday, May 17th, to take the reins, and we will hear much more from him then.  But I am very confident that ACOG will continue to move in the right direction as Tom addresses things near and dear to his heart.  Dr. Haywood Brown will follow Tom in 2017.  What a lineup!  ACOG will continue to do amazing things for our patients and for our members.

I’d like to again say thank you to you all…to all the members of the Executive Board, to the amazing ACOG staff and senior management, to Hal Lawrence and his excellent team of Vice Presidents, on behalf of Helen an myself, for the many courtesies you’ve always extended, and for the continued and deepening friendships we’ve all enjoyed.  You are an incredible group of people – you are our family!

Finally, a few words about you, our membership.  We would be nowhere without your tremendous efforts and hard work as you give back to our chosen profession by helping ACOG maintain its crucial role as our specialty organization.  We are a living, breathing organization, not dependent on any one person.  As President, I have had the honor of presiding over our board meetings, and being the public face and voice of the college for many very important issues… but I didn’t ever believe for one second that I was either indispensible or irreplaceable.  None of us are.

Not one of us is the “smartest person in the room,” because together, we all are!!!  We all need to continue to work together to keep ACOG growing and more importantly, to keep it relevant to our members in a changing world.

Yes, “The Times, They Are A-changin”… but so are we!!

Thank you very much.

This entry was posted in Women's Health and tagged , , , by Mark DeFrancesco. Bookmark the permalink.

About Mark DeFrancesco

Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD is the president of ACOG through April 2016. He is managing partner at Westwood Women’s Health in Waterbury, Connecticut, a division of Women’s Health Connecticut. Dr. DeFrancesco is a founding member of Women’s Health Connecticut, and served as its chief medical officer for many years. A graduate of Yale University, he received his medical education at the University of Connecticut, where he is currently an assistant clinical professor. Dr. DeFrancesco also earned an MBA from the University of New Haven.

One thought on “Yes, “The Times, They Are A-changin”… but so are we!!

  1. All these wonderful comments about advancing medicine to meet the needs of your patients but you refuse to teach or include Pudendal Neuralgia in your curriculum even though its been known and published about for 33 years! As a result you have abandoned many women who so desperately need medical attention. So pat yourselves on the back for thinking you are changing but recognize that you are also blatantly ignoring thousands of women who are suffering pain that ranks in the top ten of the worst of the worst. The lack of knowledge of most OBGYN’s should embarrass you.

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