Author + information
- C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC, President, American College of Cardiology∗ (, )
- Thad Waites, MD, MACC, Chair, ACC Health Affairs Committee and
- Andrew P. Miller, MD, FACC, Chair, ACC Board of Governors
- ↵∗Address for correspondence:
Dr. C. Michael Valentine, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
As cardiovascular care continues to undergo dramatic change, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) is acutely aware of the myriad challenges and opportunities facing its members, both now and in the years to come. Given this, 1 of the 4 main goals of the College’s next Strategic Plan, which will run from 2019 to 2023, is to increase its relevance as the cardiovascular professional home.
To date, specially designated task forces commissioned by the ACC Board of Trustees (BOT) have been delving deeply into what is needed for the ACC to truly be the “professional home.” These task forces have been charged with addressing strategically important topics such as diversity and inclusion, member engagement, health system and service line strategies, and clinician well-being. The guidelines and recommendations put forward by these groups are helping to shape the ACC’s strategies going forward.
The College’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative, which debuted earlier this year, is a robust, 5-year effort to improve culture and perception, create accountable structures and continuous improvement programs, and engage and nurture the pipeline and leadership of women and under-represented groups in cardiology. This focus area includes addressing all members of the College and ensuring that we are an inclusive organization that benefits from the diversity found in our cardiovascular team and global membership (1).
Member engagement continues to be at the forefront of ACC efforts—as it should be. One quality that sets the ACC apart from other professional organizations is its commitment to being truly member-driven. The statement, “no member, no mission,” is why the College, its leaders, and staff are focused on augmenting programs aimed at fellows-in-training and early-career members as they transition, engage, and grow in their careers. A similar focus is on programs and resources to help cardiovascular team, administrator, and international members grow in knowledge and leadership competencies.
A relatively new area of focus for the College is that of health system and organizational engagement. This area, also referred to as the “cardiovascular enterprise,” is increasingly important as more and more ACC members find themselves in employed models versus private practice. The College and its members across the care team are increasingly asked for national benchmarking resources and guidance on quality and cost data. Through its annual Cardiovascular Summit, the College has created a home for the sharing of best practices in care delivery and knowledge in the nonclinical competencies. Additionally, the development of a larger suite of solutions for the transition to value-based care will be an important future direction for the College (2).
A Leadership Page in a recent issue of the Journal tackled the topic of physician well-being—the newest “aim” making up the Quadruple Aim (3). The initial Triple Aim focused on improved care, better outcomes, and lower costs, but it was soon clear that achieving the Triple Aim could not happen without taking a hard look at physician well-being. Finding ways to reduce or eliminate those things that negatively affect the patient-professional relationship and helping members improve their well-being are fundamental to ensuring a healthy and productive professional home. The College is uniquely positioned to help members navigate challenges such as prior authorization, electronic health record interoperability, new reimbursement models, and maintenance of certification—all topics that keep ACC members up at night.
In addition to the aforementioned topics, finding ways to work more closely and leverage the strengths of partner cardiovascular societies have also been key areas of concentration for the BOT. We have all heard the mantra: “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Given our shared interest in stemming the tide of cardiovascular disease and improving patient lives, it is in our best interests, as well as the best interests of our collective members and their patients, to work together to create strategies that enhance the value of our “professional home.”
Over the last 2 years, a BOT-appointed task force has been diligently working to identify the elements necessary for successful collaborations with partner cardiovascular societies, as well as define clear principles to guide collaborations going forward. The American Medical Association/Specialty Society RVS Update Committee and its work to ensure the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services understands the full scope of resources involved in physician services when developing Relative Value Units is 1 example of an effective multispecialty collaboration. The committee provides a forum through which the expertise of individual specialties—and their respective members—can be combined with the expertise of others to address an issue of importance to all.
The ACC’s Annual Legislative Conference is another example of ways the ACC can serve as the “professional home” for cardiology. Not only does the conference provide ACC members with an opportunity to learn more about the College’s advocacy efforts, but it also offers unique opportunities for cardiovascular professionals from the ACC and partner cardiovascular societies to meet with and hear from their congressional leaders. The combined voices of cardiovascular professionals from across the spectrum of cardiology have and continue to make a difference when advocating for or against policies that impact the entire profession. New for 2018, a separate meeting for cardiovascular society leaders is taking place during the Legislative Conference. In addition, all conference participants will be able to take part in a presentation and discussion regarding collaboration and synergy within and between the societies.
The ACC Board of Governors (BOG) serves as another example of effective collaboration with its diverse makeup spanning cardiovascular specialties and interests. The BOG is the grassroots voice for all members, including physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, cardiovascular technicians, cardiovascular administrators, pharmacists, allied health professionals, and the College’s health system partners. The BOG collaborates closely with cardiovascular professionals across the ACC’s many member sections and the BOT, as well as external specialty groups, such as state medical societies and other cardiovascular societies, to bring important issues to the attention of College leadership and to advocate for programs and policies that protect patients and providers.
Identifying similar opportunities where the combined power of many can help shape policies, improve patient outcomes, or bring innovative new technologies and treatments to light will go far in helping to meet the ACC’s strategic goals over the next 5 years and beyond. However, it is also imperative that guiding principles are in place to ensure the greatest success. Maintaining open dialogue, developing feedback loops, outlining a clear scope of work and timeline, creating a leadership structure, understanding fiduciary responsibilities, and minimizing conflicts of interest are all important elements of successful collaborations. The BOT task force has taken on the Herculean effort of defining principles that take these and other elements into account, and their final product will be used by ACC leaders and staff going forward as new collaborations are explored and developed. Inclusivity, not exclusivity, must be our way forward.
In understanding the needs of ACC members more clearly, we can and will more clearly define the ACC as the “professional home” for all. Together we can build a more diverse and inclusive membership with leadership options and training for our early-career stars, ensure that health system leaders are more closely engaged with the College so that their voices are never lost in complex systems, create partnerships with other cardiovascular societies and organizations that enhance the value and strength of both organizations in reducing variability of care and improving quality and advocacy, and grow our local and international chapters and sections. We must always remember that the ACC exists because of its members and their passion for transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health. We will continue the active construction on your professional home so that it provides all the necessities and tools for your continued success.
- 2018 American College of Cardiology Foundation
- ↵American College of Cardiology. Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Available at: http://www.acc.org/diversity. Accessed June 27, 2018.
- Valentine C.M.
- Valentine C.M.