2023 Wraps Up Another Eventful Year for SVS
Dear Society for Vascular Surgery Members,
Thank you for your relentless commitment to quality and safety in the care of your patients as well as your commitment and dedication to the SVS. As we approach a reflective end to 2023, it has been another fast-paced year filled with challenges, opportunities and milestone achievements. None of this would be possible without the leadership and effort of over 560 member volunteers serving on over 40 Committees, Task Forces and Writers Groups. I am delighted to refresh your memory regarding a few highlights this year.
SVS Takes to the Hill
The day before the 2023 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) in Washington D.C. began, over 50 SVS leaders and staff stormed Capitol Hill and met face-to-face with over 100 members of Congress and their health staff to outline the need for immediate and dramatic change to Medicare payment. We noted the ongoing and long-term damage to access, and quality health care delivery correlated with a lack of inflationary pay increases, year-over-year payment declines due to budget neutrality, sequestration, and many other antiquated and ineffectual policies. In the Fall, Congress introduced numerous helpful pieces of legislation, including a "Clinical Labor Bill" led by SVS, which key Committees have placed on their agenda for consideration. The success of the Hill visit launched a desire for the SVS to establish an every-other-year advocacy skill building/leadership conference with a Hill visit to premier in 2025. SVS has established itself as a leader and “go-to” credible reference source amongst coalitions and other medical societies.
Quality Improvement Goes National-Hits New Heights and New Challenges
The SVS launched the Vascular Verification Program in partnership with the American College of Surgeons (ACS/SVS Vascular-VP) in 2023, and it is off to a great start. The Inpatient Standards Program was launched in May, followed by the Outpatient Standards Program in September. All SVS members are encouraged to take their practices through the program.”
The SVS Patient Safety Organization/Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) achieved double milestones in 2023, with over 1,000 subscribing practice sites and exceeding 1 million procedures entered into the VQI. The VQI also launched a first-of-its-kind effort to utilize the registry in a major vascular disease prevention program: The Smoking Cessation National Quality Initiative. The SVS PSO also established its Fellowship in Training Program to ensure the next generation of leaders in quality science are ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Media coverage in the vascular arena became a national issue this year, focusing on the appropriateness of vascular care across settings. SVS leadership spent considerable time educating health reporters and ensuring they referenced credible sources. The role of clinical practice guidelines (CPG), Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC), greater understanding of health and practice economics and focus on substantial challenges and flaws in current Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) payment/incentive policies were all subjects of vigorous discussion. The SVS plans to strengthen its communications infrastructure as it anticipates continuing the trend in 2024 and beyond.
Translation to Transformation in Clinical Practice
SVS launched its first-ever “Translating Guidelines into Practice” Webinar Series to wide acclaim and strong attendance. During the event, hundreds of SVS members heard about the translation of the global chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) guidelines, Best Endovascular vs. Best Surgical Therapy in Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia (Best-CLI) results and the updated varicose veins clinical practice guidelines. To further this work, the SVS was awarded a $100,000 educational grant from the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) to further these translational efforts.
Answering a long-standing query from SVS members and to address a major gap in credible data, SVS organized a national Compensation Study and program for vascular surgery. 20% of eligible SVS members have privately and confidentially input their financial data, and having met this floor requirement, those members who have input data can now start to pull aggregate, blinded, comparative data based on numerous demographic characteristics such as locality, region, age, gender, etc. Only members who input their data are permitted to draw data out, so all members are encouraged to enroll and participate!
Emphasizing its ongoing commitment to office and outpatient care in the community, the SVS Section on Outpatient and Office Based Care (SOOVC) has developed an outstanding “Handbook on Outpatient Vascular Care” that is due for release to SVS members by the end of 2023. The SVS recognizes the value and importance of research to promote data collection, analysis, and new research in the outpatient space. This helps with safety and cost-effectiveness, as well as expanding patients’ access to care.
Rolling With the Changes-Sculpting the Future
Each month of the year brings new ideas, new energy and new opportunities, as well as new challenges and threats that make strategy and change a universal constant for the SVS. The pace of change has accelerated and has become its own unique challenge. SVS leadership commits to continue evolving the Society to address new opportunities and challenges.
SVS membership continues to grow and diversify with total membership now closing in at 6,400 members. The establishment of the Young Surgeon Section has fostered and accelerated value and engagement for Early Career members. The value and strength of SVS Affiliate Membership are substantial with over 500 vascular physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses, and essential as the SVS sculpts the future of vascular care delivery.
As the membership changes, so does the importance of ensuring diversity of perspective in governance and volunteer engagement. 2023 saw the ratification of Bylaw changes that completed a multi-year journey in updating SVS Bylaws. For the past several years, different sections of the Bylaws have been reviewed, updated and taken to the membership in referenda. In 2022, the focus was on the Nomination Committee composition and process. In 2023, the focus was on the composition of the Executive Board.
One thing that has not changed is our member’s desire for greater visible “branding” of vascular surgery. At the 2023 Executive Board Retreat in July, a substantial commitment of resources was made by our board members to augment and accelerate branding efforts that were begun in 2021. The refreshed and renewed branding efforts will be unveiled in 2024.
SVS education is also evolving with VAM23 at National Harbor piloting numerous new program formats and following a fall retreat, much more innovation and change will be piloted in 2024 in Chicago. The SVS held its highest attended VRIC, with over 130 registrants, completed its second successful Complex Peripheral Vascular Intervention Skills Course, continued to evolve and improve its Coding and Reimbursement Workshop, continued to expand the development of a new set of coding resources for members and launching virtual courses in December 2024, and the sixth edition of the Vascular Education and Self-Assessment Program (VESAP6), our online self-assessment program, has been revised top to bottom and will launch in Spring, 2024. Once released, the SVS will pilot a new audio supplement/companion, so learners can listen to case discussions from VESAP6.
Scholarly journal publishing has continued to evolve rapidly with the acceleration of Open Access (OA) publishing models. This has required substantial strategic discussion and change within the Journal of Vascular Surgery portfolio including the launch in 2023 of the fifth journal in the JVS portfolio, Journal of Vascular Surgery-Vascular Insights.
Our SVS Foundation is evolving, thriving, and garnering renewed attention through the Voices of Vascular profiles highlighting our members. 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 also saw increased participation from last year, where participants collectively walked 44,000 miles and raised over $100,000. As the year concludes, I encourage you to support the “Celebration of Science” Year-End Campaign in 2023 and join us in 2024 for the “Night at the Museum” Gala at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
Finally, 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, working its way through the process.
Alignment to “True North”
2023 has been a year of significant achievements for the SVS, as well as its Foundation, PSO, and political action committee. We hope you are as proud as members of these accomplishments as we are as your staff. 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 you are as vascular surgeons. I extend my sincere gratitude to each member for their invaluable contributions.
On behalf of your dedicated, hard-working staff, we wish you all a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
Kenneth M. Slaw, PhD
Executive Director, Society for Vascular Surgery