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Correspondence and Brief Communications
May 1, 2007

Executive Director's Annual Report for the American College of Surgeons, 2006

Arch Surg. 2007;142(5):489-490. doi:10.1001/archsurg.142.5.489

The nation's health care delivery system is undergoing a period of considerable transition. As a professional organization, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) must work to ensure that the imminent changes serve the best interests of the surgical patient. Hence, we are spearheading and participating in a new scope of activities relating to health policy, research, education, and membership.

Many federal policymakers recognize that the current Medicare reimbursement system is critically flawed, particularly in its reliance on the sustainable growth rate to calculate the annual conversion factor. These individuals lean toward replacing the current methodology with one that links reimbursement to the value of the services physicians provide. Hence, a real challenge for the college is to develop performance measures and indicators that account for the unique nature of surgery. To this end, we actively participate in groups that vet quality measures, and we have formed the Surgical Quality Alliance, which comprises 2 dozen organizations working together to establish surgery-specific metrics of care. The process of developing and promoting quality measures is difficult and resource-intense. Nonetheless, surgery's involvement in developing the standards is paramount to determining our future as a profession.

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