“AGA is pushing the envelope in a number of areas,” said outgoing AGA President Sheila E. Crowe MD, AGAF, during the AGA Presidential Plenary at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). “And in a changing world, there are battlefronts where we must continue to work toward innovative solutions.”
The association continues to push reform in maintenance of certification (MOC). The Gastroenterologist-accountable Professionalism in Practice (G-APP) alternative certification pathway introduced 2 years ago created a strong platform to continue guiding the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to adapt its own MOC process to be more flexible, less costly, and more reflective of the realities of clinical practice.
“ABIM has responded to our pressure by unveiling the 2-year check-in,” Dr. Crowe said. “This is progress, but it still fails to address all the concerns we have expressed to ABIM. AGA will continue to work collaboratively, but forcefully, to make sure that recertification is convenient, relevant, and meaningful.”
AGA has successfully pushed for improvements to the Medicare Quality Payments program. Dr. Crowe said the association remains committed to reducing the regulatory hoops, red tape, and associated costs that practices must navigate.
The continuing push to ease regulatory burdens of practice is buoyed by successes in other areas.
AGA built a new partnership with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and launched the first annual Crohn’s & Colitis Congress™ earlier this year. Registration for the 2019 Congress opens later this month.
The AGA Community (community.gastro.org) became a vibrant hub for clinicians to discuss their most difficult cases. Most recently, AGA made its patient education materials freely available online through the AGA GI Patient Center (patient.gastro.org). All educational pieces are available in both English and Spanish.
Research has been a top priority since AGA was founded 121 years ago, Dr. Crowe added.
“We are proud to be part of a coalition that aggressively advocated for increases at NIH and were pleased that a $3 billion increase was secured in the budget,” she said. “It was a big win in a tough environment.”
To help bridge the continuing shortfall in federal funding, the AGA Research Foundation launched an active year of fundraising and funding. The Foundation provided $2 million in research funding to 41 young investigators in the past year. An expanded awards program provided more pilot awards and more research scholar awards (RSA).
The past year also saw the launch of the AGA Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) National Registry. The new registry will assess the short- and long-term patient outcomes associated with FMT. In addition, AGA created a clinical research registry for endoscopic suturing procedures. The annual AGA Tech Summit continues to push for innovation in all areas of GI. The ultimate goal, Dr. Crowe said, is to put the most effective innovations into the hands of clinicians as quickly as possible.
During the plenary, Dr. Crowe presented the annual Julius Friedenwald Medal to Loren Laine, MD, AGAF. In addition to a distinguished academic career, Dr. Laine helped create the AGA Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education while he was AGA president and helped establish AGA’s guideline development process.