While there is little doubt the pandemic has impacted each vascular surgeon and the SVS as a Society in numerous ways, the commitment and dedication of SVS committee, council and task force members to deliver on the mission has remained undaunted. Thanks to outstanding leadership by the Executive Board and Strategic Board, and impeccable stewardship and professional support by our staff, the SVS has not lost a beat, and, if anything, is poised to step on the gas as some semblance of normalcy reappears. Despite incredible challenges in local practice conditions across the country, councils, committees and task forces kept meeting, thinking and producing results for members and patients.
SVS even generated some new committees and task forces during this challenging time, such as the Diversity Committee and the Population Health Task Force—reflective of the new opportunities for change on our horizon. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our SVS leaders, volunteers and staff for their steadfast commitment to our higher mission and cause as a Society. The reports presented show a vibrant, forward-looking Society, positioned to embrace whatever comes. This is Part 1. Read the other four installments here, here, here and here.—Ronald L. Dalman, MD, SVS president
Quality Council zeroes in on Appropriate Use Criteria
The Quality Council has earmarked a major initiative for 2021, and it will involve sponsorship of the first official set of SVS Appropriate Use Criteria guidelines, focusing on claudication.
The criteria are intended to provide guidance for decision-making in real-world clinical scenarios.
SVS created the Quality Council—which is chaired by Larry Kraiss, MD—in 2018 to coordinate and integrate the quality-related activities occurring in various places within the Society.
Clinical Practice Guidelines are a close relative of the criteria, and their development was recently added to the council portfolio, Kraiss explains.
This allows the SVS to closely coordinate creation of both Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Appropriate Use Criteria guidelines for important vascular topics. An update to the former for claudication will also be written in 2021.
The Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) is also part of the Quality Council. An ongoing major objective will be to harmonize both sets of guidelines with the VQI in a way that VQI participants can demonstrate compliance, Kraiss elaborates.
“We want to position the SVS as a model professional society with regard to the close coordination of data-driven Clinical Practice Guidelines and Appropriate Use Criteria, along with the ability to use the VQI to measure whether compliance with those guidelines produces better patient outcomes,” adds Kraiss.—Beth Bales
Appropriateness Committee seeks to push ahead with new guidelines
It was a central plank of the presidential agenda set out by immediate past president Kim Hodgson, MD. And now the SVS Appropriateness Committee has targeted further development of the Society’s first set of Appropriate Use Criteria guidelines. The SVS defines appropriateness as “the expected health benefit exceeds the expected negative consequences by a sufficiently wide margin that the procedure is worth doing.”
Developing the appropriate use guidelines requires a commissioned literature. Appropriateness Committee chair Jeffrey Siracuse, MD, said: “Our goal for the year is to evaluate the review, finish the Writing Panel’s scenarios and to assemble the Rating Panel to review them for two rounds. As this process moves forward and develops, future topics will be considered.”—Beth Bales and Bryan Kay
New link-up for the Document Oversight Committee
The SVS Document Oversight Committee—or the DOC—will be aligning with the SVS Quality Council in order to further its crucial work during the course of 2021.
This will include improving congruency between clinical practice guideline recommendations and the Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI).
Not only will this new direction lead to better collaboration and communication, it should result in more widespread adoption of Clinical Practice Guidelines and reporting, both of which will result in improved quality of care and, subsequently, improved patient outcomes, say committee chair Ruth L. Bush, MD, and vice chair Marc L. Schermerhorn, MD.
The DOC, composed of 16 members, already works closely with the rest of the SVS, including the Executive Board. “Our purpose is to review, critique and promote internally and externally generated Clinical Practice Guidelines, white papers, mobile tools and calculators, all of which support patient care for SVS members,” explain Bush and Schermerhorn.
“The DOC also maintains a regular schedule of reviewing guidelines every five years looking for new literature and data to support or revise recommendations.”
The alignment with the Quality Council will see immediate results during the first six months of 2021, with the DOC due to issue Clinical Practice Guidelines on the management of extracranial cerebrovascular disease, the management of popliteal artery aneurysms and enhanced recovery after surgery for vascular operations, they add.—Beth Bales and Bryan Kay
Keeping a close watch for QPP developments
The Quality and Performance Measures Committee (QPMC) is tasked with monitoring and creating national performance measures that are relevant to vascular surgeons.
Ever since the Quality Performance Program (QPP) was implemented in 2016, a major focus of the QPMC has been advocating for vascular surgeons on QPP requirements, educating the SVS membership about QPP and working to create mechanisms for vascular surgeons to be successful in it—all physicians who bill Medicare are required to participate adequately in QPP or face a financial penalty.
With Karen Woo, MD, as chair, in 2021 the QPMC will continue to monitor for QPP developments that may affect vascular surgeons and address them to the extent possible. As of the final rule for 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to implement in 2022 the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Value Programs (MVPs). That will see the QPMC make a major push to create a vascular surgery MVP proposal for CMS to consider, Woo explains.
The committee accomplished significant work on this proposal in 2020, with the development of performance measures and data analysis to support their validity. This work will continue in 2021 with a focus on publishing a white paper on the topic of patient-reported outcomes relevant to vascular surgeons, on which CMS has placed great emphasis. “The QPMC has always and will continue to work tirelessly to optimize performance measures for vascular surgeons and the delivery of care to our vascular patients,” says Woo.—Beth Bales
SVS births brand new Communications Committee
The SVS Communications Committee, equipped with three subcommittees, is a new addition for 2021.
Chaired by the SVS secretary, Amy Reed, MD, the committee consists of leadership from Pulse; Vascular Specialist; Audible Bleeding; and the SVS Membership, Public and Professional Outreach (PPO) and Program committees; COVERS (Coalition for Optimization of Vascular Surgery Trainees and Students); SVS Town Halls; the Wellness Task Force; and the Journal of Vascular Surgery diversity, equity and inclusion editor.
It will help shape and align member communication topics and improve engagement across all Society for Vascular Surgery channels and communications vehicles.
The overall Communications Committee will focus on high-level strategy and will help integrate communications across all SVS entities, including the Society itself, the SVS Foundation, the Political Action Committee and the Patient Safety Organization, which operates the Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI).
The three sub-committees cover social media engagement, PPO and the website oversight. Committee composition is set to be announced early in the year.—Beth Bales
New committee to deliver diversity position statement
The newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee plans to implement the recommendations from the DEI Task Force. Under the guidance of chair Vincent Rowe, MD, the committee’s primary focus for the upcoming year will be to create an SVS diversity position statement, revise the SVS’ mission and core values, initiate collaborative relationships with key SVS councils and committees, and enrich diversity educational programs at the Vascular Annual Meeting (see page 25 for more on the DEI Committee).—Beth Bales
Preparing for VAM—with alternative options on deck
The Postgraduate Education Committee is hard at work to try to provide the most compelling, timely educational material for SVS members this year, chair Vikram Kashyap, MD, tells Vascular Specialist. Given the fluid situation regarding the pandemic, the committee is planning for multiple options for the 2021 iteration of the Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM): an in-person VAM, a hybrid meeting or virtual only.
“We instituted a change for VAM 2021, slating postgraduate education courses on three separate days, instead of clustering them all on Wednesday,” explains Kashyap.
“This will allow SVS members to attend more sessions with less parallel, competing programming. Some of our sessions will be carry-overs from those that could not be presented in 2020, including postgrad courses on pediatric and emergency vascular care. We also have a lineup of concurrent and ‘Ask the Expert’ sessions for all interests and career stages. Topics include, but are not limited to, the value of a vascular surgeon, occupational hazards, the digital transformation of healthcare, how to prevent complications and leadership. We are hopeful of being able to see you in person in San Diego.”—Beth Bales
*The January 2021 issue of Vascular Specialist, which contained this special feature, went to press prior to the news that the dates for VAM had been moved to August, and that Congress had moved to halt cuts to Medicare.