Looking forward – June 2013

David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS

This past March, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Executive Staff participated in a one-day retreat to reflect on our recent accomplishments and to develop strategies that can be implemented over the next 18 months to take the organization to the next level. The retreat was the culmination of a two-month process during which our Performance Improvement (PI) team, led by Will Chapleau, RN, EMT-P, met with each of the division directors to review last year’s objectives and accomplishments and plans for the coming year.

The strategic planning retreat began with a “post-mortem” on the ACS’ two-year engagement with GE Healthcare and the launch of our PI program and the PI Division, which are described in the January 2013 “Looking forward” column (Bull Am Coll Surg. 98[1]:7-8). During the retreat, the PI team reported that the GE initiative had identified 190 projects and priorities for the ACS. At the time of the retreat, 148 projects had begun, and a dozen had been completed and were moving into the control phase.

In addition, each division director reported on their team’s progress and matched the division’s plans with the College’s global objectives and core values to form a strategic model for moving the organization forward. Following is a brief summary of each component of the strategic plan and an example or two of how the College will be working over the coming months to bring these objectives to fruition.


The College continues its efforts to improve the care of the surgical patient by giving surgeons and their institutions and offices the tools and standards needed to consistently achieve better outcomes. In the coming months the College’s divisions will strive to produce a quality resource guide, foster participation in the Surgeon-Specific Registry, develop more standardized databases, unify the ACS verification and quality programs, and expand the reach of our quality programs, including the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. In addition, plans are in the works to upgrade the National Cancer Data Base informatics platform and increase its external use.


The College is striving to actively engage its members in coordinated efforts to advocate on surgeons’ behalf with public and private health insurers, state governments, regulatory bodies, and the federal government. Two major goals in this arena are to develop a model for physician payment reform and to strengthen relationships and improve collaboration with specialty societies.

With regard to payment reform, the ACS has developed a framework for the Value-Based Update (VBU) to replace the sustainable growth rate formula used to calculate Medicare reimbursement (see page 72). Over the coming months, the ACS intends to complete an analysis of the VBU and explore its feasibility. Other advocacy initiatives include studying and providing resources on bundled payment and providing new incentives to encourage participation in the American College of Surgeons Professional Association’s political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC). Furthermore, the Committee on Trauma and the Commission on Cancer plan to bolster their members’ engagement in grassroots advocacy activities.

Member services

Efforts to increase the number of surgeons who are members of the ACS continue. The College is working to achieve this objective by promoting the value of ACS Fellowship and ensuring a quality membership experience.

Specific activities under way to make ACS membership more meaningful and appealing to practicing surgeons include redesigning the Board of Governors, which represents the Fellowship at large, and the Advisory Councils, which represent the specialties, to make these bodies more proactive and responsive to our members’ concerns. The College is also making strides toward improving data collection to inform recruitment and retention, developing an overarching strategy for international efforts, developing strategic plans for the chapters, and implementing a young surgeon marketing campaign.

We also are improving our communications vehicles to make them more user-friendly and of greater interest to all surgeons. Activities in this area include redevelopment of the ACS website with portal integration and redevelopment of College newsletters.


Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, established the ACS to ensure that surgeons were properly trained in the delivery of patient care. The ACS continues to fulfill his vision by promoting excellence in surgery through innovative education, training, verification, validation, and accreditation programs.

Education projects under way include expansion and further enhancement of existing programs, revision of education and training materials, and expansion of skills courses. Strategic initiatives and programs for the coming year include offering courses, curricula, and resources in a variety of formats for the greatest impact and access; expanding standard-setting programs for educational institutes; significantly expanding accreditation activities; and enhancing the patient education program. Two highlights are programs designed to assist with the transition to residency and the transition to surgical practice.

Organizational strength

The ACS continues its internal efforts to ensure that the staff is engaged, productive, and performing at the highest levels and that the organization’s volunteer base is equipped with the infrastructure and tools they need to keep the College moving forward.

Over the coming year, the College intends to train 60 more staff members in performance improvement strategies and implement a new staff policy guide. We will complete our efforts to ensure that employees’ compensation is commensurate with their peers at other major associations and will begin benchmarking ACS benefits as well. We anticipate that these efforts will be useful in recruiting new talent. In addition, a year-long leadership training program begins in August, which will include five two-day working sessions and individual coaching for leaders.

A robust information technology analysis is under way. Once it is complete, the ACS will build the infrastructure and implement the software needed to support the College’s efforts for the next decade. Additionally, a post-mortem of the 2013 Clinical Congress will take place to determine potential for improvement.

Financial strength

The College’s leadership is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the College while allocating the resources needed for current investment. To these ends, the ACS intends to improve internal financial management and reporting, foster fiscal responsibility with the College, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of transactional services to internal and external customers.

Ongoing process

The ACS staff is to be commended for their efforts to date to improve the College’s ability to serve those of you who have dedicated yourselves to the serving the surgical patient. We anticipate that the strategic model we have developed will lead to the creation of programs and initiatives across the College that will be focused, cohesive, and centered on our core values.

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