I consider it a great honor and privilege to be your president. We live in exciting times, and there is much going on. I believe that the key to having control of our destinies lies in being proactive instead of reactive. In this regard, I want ASE to focus on long-term strategies that bring us success in our core missions of education, research, and advocacy.
Education: ASE is the premier organization offering the best and most varied educational opportunities to the cardiovascular imaging community. We have expanded our offers to include a vascular imaging course, to be held on October 9, 2010 in Philadelphia. In addition, Echo Hawaii and State-of-the-Art of Echocardiography will continue under our watchful management and are scheduled for January 21–25, 2011 and February 12–16, 2011, respectively. In the coming year, the ASE Learning Lab will continue its successful series of hands-on training sessions with an expanded number of courses. In 2012, with the cooperation with the Mayo Clinic Foundation, ASE will assume the management of Echo Vail. We are also examining the possibility of putting up a course in the Northeast in the fall. As we look to broaden our educational offerings, we are expanding our Web-based educational opportunities; continuing our focus on exam preparation with the ever-popular ASCeXAM/ReASCE Review Course; and looking forward to our flagship event, the Annual Scientific Sessions, the largest meeting of the cardio-vascular imaging professionals in the world. As such, it is appropriate that we will gather in Montreal for this exciting event. This portfolio of educational opportunities provides a combination of cutting edge research and clinical applications, and we encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.
Research: Everything we do in cardiovascular ultrasound today is based on research performed in the past. The vitality of the field and indeed its entire future depends on vigorous and robust investment in research. So far, ASE has spent more than 4 million dollars on research grants, underwritten by generous contributions from our industry partners. Because of the recession, we had to decrease our research grants, but have now taken steps to reverse this decline. One such step is the enhancement ASE Foundation, the main purpose of which is to attract philanthropic dollars to support research. The Foundation will hold its first annual gala dinner at the 2010 Scientific Sessions to raise funds for research. The main source of non-industry cardiovascular research funding in the world is the National Institute of Health (NIH). We are engaging the NIH in order to create more funding opportunities for research focused on technical and clinical advances in echocardiography. This year we are also hosting a technology summit, to which we are inviting thought leaders in engineering, physics, and echocardiography to create a roadmap for future cardiac ultrasound research. Proceedings of this summit will be published in JASE .
Advocacy: In 2009 we experienced a steep decline in echocardiography reimbursement due to the bundling of services. Reimbursement for transthoracic echocardiography services performed outside of a hospital setting declined by about 10% this year, and is scheduled for an additional 30% decline over the next three years. As a result, sonographer jobs are in jeopardy as is the very existence of our field. There will be further unforeseen repercussions from health care reform which are likely to negatively impact reimbursement for our services. We therefore need to develop flexible business models that can adjust to the changing external environment and yet provide excellent diagnostic (and hopefully in the future, therapeutic) services for our patients. In addition, we are on the front lines working to fight the pre-certification of echocardiography services, which delays patient access to services and increases administrative burdens on providers. As private payers begin to propose such programs in your region, we are counting on you, our members, to notify us so that we can proactively oppose such requirements.
Our work at ASE is growing daily in breadth and complexity. We need your support and involvement to keep our profession viable and vital! Thank you for your membership; it’s never been more important.