Dr. Ponce's Blog -
ASMBS Spring Event:
Great Meeting, Great People, Great Things Ahead

Published in June 2013 Issue             

The ASMBS Spring Event in New Orleans was a major success! It was interesting. It was exciting, and you can't help but walk away from a meeting like this with new insights, greater knowledge and a renewed passion for what we do as a society.

More than 300 members attended, making the Spring Event the best attended ASMBS event outside the annual meeting. For the first time, we simultaneously broadcast three live surgeries from three different locations. Dr. Tom Lavin (sleeve gastrectomy), Dr. David Provost (gastric bypass) and Dr. Helmuth Billy (gastric band removal and conversion to sleeve gastrectomy) each allowed us into their operating rooms, where they were able to talk and walk us through each of the surgeries and hear our comments and respond to our questions. All of them performed beautifully.

All the sessions were lively, and the inclusion of video abstracts for the first time added another great interesting dimension to the meeting.  And while the event was well attended, it was small enough to allow members and faculty to interact more deeply and frequently.  Kudos go to the program committee led by Drs. Ninh Nguyen and Dan Herron, as well as Laura Boyer, RN, CBN and Mara Berman, RN, MBA who led the program development for Integrated Health.

To continue the tradition, we held a Town Hall with ASMBS leadership where accreditation was the main topic. There is broad consensus that accreditation has done many positive things for our practices and patients. It has helped to improve safety, quality and data acquisition. Further, it has increased hospital support for bariatric program implementation with multidisciplinary team resource and has achieved recognition and acceptance from many insurers.

While CMS evaluates the need for accreditation in its national coverage determination, we continue to provide leadership on the power and structure of accreditation, the collection and analysis of outcomes data, and the shape and form of quality improvement in bariatric and metabolic surgery. What we are doing is no less than helping to shape the future of obesity treatment, demonstrate the power and value of bariatric and metabolic surgery and improve patient access. This is no easy feat and we need all the great ideas and feedback we can get. There is a plan and timeline in place. We will get this right and we will do it together.

Finally, there were three important issues that I discussed with the membership at the opening ceremony of the Spring Event that I'd like to share with you as well.

The first issue is continuity of care. It was brought to my attention that there might be some centers using aggressive marketing to attract patients from distant geographic locations and not offering a good plan for long term follow-up. I reminded everybody about our Code of Ethics section on this: “Long-term care and follow-up is the responsibility of the operating surgeon. Circumstances may require a portion of this care to be provided by another health professional, but it is the responsibility of the surgeon to establish communication, provide appropriate patient information, and ensure proper continuity of care.”

Secondly, we must support bariatric and metabolic consistently and authoritatively. We all understand that no one procedure is right for everyone, but in some recent public comments to the media about politicians having surgery, there was a mixed message as surgeons and other experts argued about the merits of a procedure. We must always be truthful and accurate in our comments, but we also must be fair and balanced and provide a big picture context for the public message -- the risk and benefits of bariatric and metabolic surgery far outweigh the risks of obesity and related diseases in the eligible patient population.

Lastly, I urged everyone to donate to the ASMBS Foundation. The ASMBS continues to do more and more things to improve access, establish better research initiatives, and continue our education activities. All these things require funding and it is very important for all our members to donate what they can to our Foundation. It's easy. Please visit: www.asmbsfoundation.com.

Enjoy this issue of connect!