SVS points to 2023 achievements, challenges in coming year

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Joseph L. Mills (L) and Kenneth M. Slaw (R)

The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) reflects on a year marked by notable achievements on multiple fronts. In a communication to members in mid-December, Executive Director, Kenneth M. Slaw, PhD, underscored the organization’s growth, collaborative endeavors and key milestones attained in 2023.

“Our members’ dedication and collaborative efforts across various councils, committees and departments have propelled us forward. 2023 stands out as a year of significant achievements that our members can take pride in,” said Slaw. “As we look forward to 2024, the SVS remains steadfast in its commitment to championing quality and safety in patient care, the best science in the field, and advancing vascular surgery through meaningful collaboration, innovation, and, as a specialty, by letting the world know how special our members are as vascular surgeons.”

SVS takes to the Hill

  • Over 50 SVS leaders and staff participated in a Hill visit before the 2023 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) in Washington, D.C.
  • SVS members engaged with over 100 Congress representatives to advocate for immediate changes to Medicare payment policies, which led to initiatives to consider legislation, including a “Clinical Labor Bill”
  • The SVS plans to host an advocacy skill-building conference in 2025

Quality improvement goes national

  • The SVS successfully initiated the Vascular Verification Program with the American College of Surgeons, demonstrating achievement in both inpatient and outpatient standards programs
  • The SVS Patient Safety Organization (PSO)/ Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) surpassed 1,000 subscribing practice sites and recorded over 1 million procedures in the VQI database
  • The VQI introduced the Smoking Cessation National Quality Initiative, highlighting the SVS’ commitment to addressing critical public health issues associated with vascular care
  • The SVS/PSO Fellowship in Training program was launched as part of ongoing efforts to enhance professional development and education
  • SVS mobilized dozens of member letters expressing concern for patient safety relative to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) national coverage determination (NCD) rule that will expand carotid stenting. The SVS is on record with CMS, expressing its concerns, and has offered solutions to minimize potential harm

Health reporters contacted the SVS numerous times, seeking comment and guidance regarding stories featuring poor patient outcomes.

“The role of clinical practice guidelines, appropriate use criteria (AUC), greater understanding of health and practice economics, and focus on substantial challenges and flaws in current CMS payment/incentive policies were all subjects of discussion,” said Slaw

“The SVS plans to strengthen its communications infrastructure as it anticipates more frequent and continued contact with media professionals in 2024 and beyond.”

Translation to transformation in clinical practice

  • The launch of the inaugural “Translating Guidelines into Practice” webinar attracted hundreds of SVS members. The course covered the translation of global chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) guidelines, Best Endovascular vs. Best Surgical Therapy in Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia (BEST-CLI) results and updated varicose veins clinical practice guidelines
  • The SVS secured a $100,000 educational grant from the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) to support ongoing translational efforts
  • The SVS initiated a national compensation study and program for vascular surgery in response to member queries to address gaps in credible data

Emphasizing its ongoing commitment to office and outpatient care in the community, the SVS Section on Outpatient and Office Vascular Care (SOOVC) developed the Handbook on Outpatient Vascular Care, released at the end of 2023.

“Each month of the year brings new ideas, energy and opportunities, as well as new challenges and threats that make strategy and change a universal constant for the SVS,” said Slaw.

The pace of change has accelerated and has become its unique challenge. SVS leadership commits to continue evolving the Society to address new opportunities and challenges.”

Rolling with the changes

  • SVS membership reached a total of 6,400 diverse members
  • SVS Affiliate membership, encompassing over 500 vascular physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and advanced care providers, played a substantial role in shaping the future of vascular care delivery
  • Bylaw changes were ratified, concluding a multi-year journey to update SVS bylaws, explicitly focusing on modifying the composition of the Executive Board
  • During the 2023 Executive Board retreat in July, significant resources were committed to augmenting and accelerating branding efforts initiated in 2021, with the refreshed branding set to be unveiled in 2024

Advancements in education

  • The SVS achieved its highest attendance at the Vascular Research Initiatives Conference (VRIC), with over 130 registrants
  • The organization completed its second Complex Peripheral Vascular Intervention Skills Course and ongoing improvements in the Coding and Reimbursement Workshop
  • The SVS launched virtual coding courses in December
  • The sixth edition of the Vascular Education and Self-Assessment Program (VESAP6) is set to launch in Spring 2024. A new audio supplement/companion for VESAP6 will be piloted, allowing learners to listen to case discussions
  • The launch of the fifth journal in the Journal of Vascular Surgery portfolio, Journal of Vascular Surgery-Vascular Insights, showcased open-access publishing models

The 2023 “Great Gatsby” Gala proved to be a resounding success, raising more than $200,000 to support the future of vascular health. The Vascular Health Step Challenge increased participation from last year, with participants collectively walking 44,000 miles and raised more than $100,000.

“As the year concludes, I encourage you join us in 2024 for the ‘Night at the Museum’ Gala at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry,” said Slaw.

SVS member volunteers have pressed forward to sculpt the future with numerous new task forces in 2023, including Pediatric Vascular Care, Patient Engagement, Innovation in Vascular Care, Clinical Trials and a proposed new Section for Senior Members.

SVS President Joseph L. Mills, MD, addressed achievements the Society will target in the new year.

“2024 will bring about a new set of challenges for our Society to overcome,” he said.

“The SVS reaffirms its unyielding commitment to advancing excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research and public awareness. Together, we will continue to emphasize quality and patient safety, push boundaries, foster innovative solutions, and empower our members with the knowledge and resources needed to excel in the dynamic field of vascular surgery.

“Our collective dedication will be the driving force behind the sustained success of the SVS and will continue to impact the evolving landscape of vascular healthcare favorably.”

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