These are pivotal times in the lifecycle of ISASS as well as in global healthcare. Medical Device Regulation is phasing into European Union countries, placing tremendous reporting requirements on device manufacturers and raising concerns about stifling innovation and choking off small start-up ventures. Surgeons in Asia are frequently on the cutting edge of surgical technology and are sharing their expertise with the rest of the world. In the United States, traditional fee-for-service models are disappearing, and surgeons are dealing with issues of hospital employment, bundled payment and shared risk options. Young surgeons are training longer with post-residency fellowships, but then opting for lifestyle-friendly options for practice. Surgical decision-making, traditionally a product of the physician/patient relationship, is now being mandated by governmental or private corporate policymakers.
ISASS also must adapt to changes in the medical environment to survive. Societies must prove relevancy to their members and provide services that justify paying annual dues as well as encouraging participation in a spirit of volunteerism to keep the society running. With surgeons having an option to attend a spine course nearly every week, as well as with conflicting obligations to work harder and spend more time with family, ISASS must show that it can provide unique benefits to earn your membership and your allegiance.
We are working hard to play to our strengths. ISASS is dedicated to improving the quality of our patient’s lives when they require spine surgery. We are an organization of spine surgeons and researchers uniquely dedicated to improving patient outcomes by appropriate use of evolving surgical techniques and partnering with Industry to make it a win-win for all stakeholders.
ISASS is sponsoring, through its Education Committee and its Chair Dr. Alex Vaccaro, a Patient Advocacy course in New York City on December 6-7. That course will show our commitment to improving patient access to the best technologies in spinal surgery. It will appeal to an audience of not only surgeons, but other non-physician stakeholders in health care as well.
Our Annual Meeting will continue that theme, as well as provide high-level surgeon education about the newest present and future techniques in spine surgery. Symposia on minimally invasive and endoscopic approaches will be featured, along with paper and poster sessions, industry workshops, surgical technique labs, and networking opportunities not available on line or through smaller, focused meetings. ISASS can and should be the go-to society for surgeons interested in the latest innovation in surgical care of the spine. We can and will focus specifically on surgical care of the spine, unlike any other society.
Join us in Puerto Rico! In September 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane considered the worst natural disaster on record to affect the island. This United States Territory was already in financial crisis with high unemployment and a crumbling infrastructure when the hurricane hit. Thousands were left without access to water, food, and electricity.
Since then, Puerto Rico has worked hard to restore its infrastructure and to resurrect its economy, which has historically been significantly fueled by its tourism industry. The ISASS Board decided to hold our 2020 Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our infusion of capital for hotel space, car rentals, meals, tourism and recreational activities will contribute to the island’s recovery effort. ISASS members will get to enjoy a tropical venue that will allow for a change of winter climate for many of our attendees, along with an opportunity to bring their families to enjoy San Juan’s beaches as well as discover the history and culture of Puerto Rico.
It isn’t often in life that we have such an opportunity to help our host city. We hope you will mark your calendars for an exciting academic program Feb. 26-28, 2020, as well as an opportunity to directly participate in the recovery of Puerto Rico’s economy. The 2020 ISASS Annual Meeting should be rewarding for our brains as well as for our hearts and souls! See you in San Juan!