Carol A. Burke, MD, FACG
Dr. Carol A. Burke

By Carol A. Burke, MD, FACG
ACG President

Many recent historic moments, a few unbelievable. On November 2, 2016, the Cleveland Indians took the Chicago Cubs to Game 7 and, in extra innings, lost to them by one run, allowing the Cubs their first World Series championship in 108 years. Less than one week later the underdog, Donald J. Trump, became the 45th President of the United States of America.

Two important quotes come to mind as I put these two events into perspective and acknowledge the impact of the transformation in health care and regulatory burdens on physicians. Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Benjamin Franklin aptly stated, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

Advancing Gastroenterology at a Time of Change

The College is keenly aware of the tension gastroenterologists are feeling and is constantly working to ease the burden and help us negotiate the changes that lay ahead for us in our profession. ACG members are facing seismic changes encompassed within the MACRA legislation, for which the federal government announced the final regulation on October 14. Under MACRA, Medicare transitions to a Quality Payment Program (QPP), which replaces the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment system. QPP represents a fundamental shift from a volume-based, fee-for-service payment system to one that, according to CMS, “rewards value.” I hope you have noted ACG’s weekly “MACRA Tidbits” as part of our “This Week in Washington, DC” communications. These tidbits are streamlined in their style and straightforward in their content to help you navigate the “alphabet soup” of MACRA, MIPS, QPP, APMS and ACOs.

Less than one month ago, I was honored to become the 73rd President of the American College of Gastroenterology at the ACG Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course in Las Vegas. I want to thank everyone for their well wishes on my success and especially ACG Past President Dr. Ken DeVault for his tutelage over the past year.

I will continue the forward progress that Ken and the College have made in our mission of advancing gastroenterology and improving patient care. Ken worked tirelessly and collaboratively with other societies to ensure that our voices are heard in a multitude of areas important to our practice. He promulgated the College’s stance that the disruptive, time-consuming, redundant, irrelevant, and costly approach of the ABIM to Board recertification must be changed. He created a process in which our legislative affairs and public policy agenda will be bolstered and will provide a potent vehicle to ensure gastroenterology is represented by a seat at the table.

Impressions from the ACG 2016 Annual Meeting

I, as many of you, cherish the ACG Annual Scientific Meeting as an opportunity for GI clinicians to tune into top-notch education and cutting-edge research pertinent for the care of our patients, while still in the context of a meeting which always provides old friends the opportunity to mingle together.

If you did not have the benefit of attending the ACG Annual Scientific Meeting, we enjoyed the largest attendance of any previous meeting with more than 5,700 attendees. The Exhibit Hall was flush with more than 180 companies interacting with attendees. The warm welcome and engaging tone of our Annual Meeting was set in the Exhibit Hall during the opening welcome reception, which allowed for casual conversation with exhibitors and poster presenters over hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. The atmosphere was exciting — the SCOPY Awards ceremony took place in the Exhibitor Theater and the Hands-On Workshop Center was full, as experts demonstrated the latest endoscopic tools and techniques.

The College received a record number of scientific abstracts this year, and there were 2,288 poster presentations over the course of the meeting. The scientific program was excellent, and 69 investigators orated their research findings during the Plenary Session. Many presentations discussed the impact of exciting potential new therapies for our patients including aprepitant for symptoms of gastroparesis and related disorders, pregabalin and tenapanor for IBS, obeticholic acid in PBC, an edible bowel preparation for colon cleansing, an anti-interleukin 13 monoclonal antibody in EoE, and the oral agents tofacitinib and ozanimod for ulcerative colitis, to name a few.

I would like to thank the Educational Affairs Committee under the leadership of Dr. John Saltzman, Postgraduate Course Co-Directors Dr. Amy Oxentenko and Dr. Douglas Adler, as well as the exhibitors, attendees and investigators for making ACG 2016 great (again)!

Looking Ahead: 2017 World Congress of GI at ACG

The College will be making history at ACG 2017. It has been more than two decades since a World Congress of Gastroenterology has been held in the United States. I am very proud and excited that on October 13-18, 2017, the ACG and World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) will co-host the “World Congress of Gastroenterology at ACG 2017,” in Orlando, FL.

The World Congress promises to be an historic gathering in which ACG, as the premier U.S. clinical GI meeting, welcomes WGO’s focus on global GI health. The scientific program will feature world-class clinical science at a meeting reflecting both ACG’s signature spirit of collegiality and WGO’s international stature.

My Challenge to You: Get Involved with ACG

I also challenge each of you to get involved with the College. Committees are the lifeblood of our organization. Committee members are selected in June of each year, and you can apply for a committee appointment here.

For those of you who are ACG members, please take advantage of becoming a Fellow of the College (FACG). The requisites are outlined here.

The success of the College squarely rests on the involvement and ideas of our members and committees, leadership by the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, as well as our knowledgeable and professional administrative staff under the direction of ACG Executive Director Brad Stillman.

I send a heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you and look forward to a great year.