From the President
What place does allergy/immunology (A/I) have in the changing healthcare environment? This is a crucial question and one of my presidential initiatives aims to answer it.
We cannot deny that our specialty faces certain challenges. We are underrepresented in medical schools and few A/I physicians occupy national decision-making roles. Not to mention the changes in healthcare reimbursement models, the regulatory and research environment, and diagnostic techniques and treatments for allergic diseases. Consider that 60% of practice revenue associated with skin testing and traditional immunotherapy may be at risk with advancements in serologic diagnosis of allergy, changes in immunotherapy and use of immunobiologicals.
This is our reality and we need to think strategically about how to position the specialty for future success, especially when you consider the areas where we can make an impact. These include food allergy diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, severe/difficult asthma and asthma as a public health issue, drug allergy/adverse drug reactions, dermal allergy, clinical immunology and auto-inflammatory disease, and novel immunotherapy, diagnostics, immunobiologicals and vaccines.
We cannot simply look inward and discuss amongst ourselves to determine what place A/I has in the changing healthcare environment. We absolutely need outside opinions as well. Thus I am working to create an AAAAI Advisory Group that would provide advice and perspective on the role of A/I in national healthcare systems from decision makers who do not represent A/I, including healthcare system leaders, insurance and third party payers, policymakers and representatives from lay organizations.
My vision is to then bring various AAAAI stakeholders together with the AAAAI Advisory Group for a Future of Allergy and Immunology Summit, where a key set of questions would be answered to form the basis for a white paper. Some potential questions that could be considered include:
- How does A/I provide added value to referring physicians, our patients and the public, as well as healthcare systems and public and private payers?
- How do we reaffirm and expand our scope of practice?
- How do we increase the influence of A/I in healthcare systems, academics, research and regulatory entities?
- How do we maximize reimbursement for services in this shifting environment?
- How do we address regulatory requirements?
The resulting white paper would then be used to guide a strategic planning process to enhance the influence of A/I in health care, defend our traditional strengths, adapt our scope of practice to increase the value of A/I to patients and healthcare systems, develop leaders trained in A/I, and embrace developing technology and treatments. Working with any and all relevant organizations to execute this strategic plan will be important.
As we continue to solidify plans for the Summit, expect to hear more about it in future messages. I want to stress that inviting input from voices outside of the specialty is crucial so we can better understand what we as an organization need to focus on to prepare our specialty for the inevitable changes in healthcare. By soliciting outside voices we could hear things we may not want to hear, but the point here is to be forward-thinking. The future of our specialty depends on it.
David B. Peden, MD, MS, FAAAAI
Last updated: July 11, 2017
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