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October/November 2011
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From the President: Staying Focused in Challenging Times

As I begin my term as IDSA president, I want to assure you the Society’s commitment to its diverse membership remains as strong as ever despite the challenging fiscal realities we face. Because of the rapidly changing world of health care delivery and economics, many believe we could be entering an era of diminished opportunities for ID specialists. Yes, these are changing and challenging times but I believe we can be leaders in the new era by continuing to demonstrate our expertise in research, public health, and patient care, as well as by identifying new opportunities in the field.

From clinicians, educators, or researchers in academic settings, to practicing clinicians providing direct patient care, as well as ID specialists in other settings, such as public health, infection control, and international health, IDSA members perform an impressive and essential range of work. In the year ahead, IDSA will continue to draw on this diversity as we pursue our key priorities in a rapidly evolving environment. Federal funding for research, public health infrastructure, and patient care will all likely be affected by efforts to control the federal budget deficit.

Supporting adequate funding for critical public health and prevention programs in ID—and promoting ID-related research—have been top priorities for IDSA, and this focus will continue. In this climate, it will be more important than ever for members to help us refine the Society’s policy messages and carry them to lawmakers and policymakers, in addition to our ongoing efforts to educate Congress and others about the long-term value of these investments and the lives they save.

The Society will also continue to advocate for regulatory and legislative action to address antimicrobial resistance. This includes urging Congress to pass legislation creating incentives and removing economic and regulatory barriers to spur antimicrobial development, strengthening surveillance programs, requiring antimicrobial stewardship efforts, and fostering research on resistance, in addition to other strategies.

Ongoing efforts to document the value ID specialists provide to patients and the health care system, through improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs, will remain an important focus in the coming year. Presented at the IDSA Annual Meeting in Boston, the initial results of a Society-commissioned study of Medicare data by a health services research firm indicate that early involvement of ID specialists in the care of patients with conditions such as bacteremia, meningitis, infective endocarditis, prosthetic joint infections, and others is associated with lower patient mortality, lower readmission rates, and lower costs of providing care. More analysis of the data and manuscript preparation are underway.

IDSA will continue to help practicing ID physicians navigate changes in the nation’s health care delivery system with updated information and practical tools. Promoting the need for ID physicians to be compensated for the services they provide, including non-patient care activities, such as antimicrobial stewardship and infection control, will be an important Society priority, particularly in light of the new payment mechanisms, including gain sharing, possible under health care reform.

Another key area of focus will be enhancing the development of IDSA’s practice guidelines, including making timely revisions, standardizing guideline formats, and ensuring guidelines are concise and easy to use, Executive summaries will continue to be published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, and complete guidelines will be available online.

All forms of viral hepatitis and the array of new drugs being developed to combat these infections present an opportunity for ID physicians to demonstrate their expertise and assume a leadership role in the diagnosis and management of these diseases. With this in mind, IDSA has appointed a task force to develop educational programs and resources to assist members and promote the important role of ID physicians in this area.

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) will continue its leadership role in promoting quality HIV care that follows an evidenced-based approach, including as a local scientific partner with the National Institutes of Health for the 2012 International AIDS Conference, July 22-27, in Washington, D.C. IDSA will also continue to have a voice in advocacy on global ID through the efforts of the Center for Global Health Policy.

Perhaps most importantly, planning is well underway for IDWeek 2012, the first-ever joint meeting of IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, HIVMA, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Oct. 17-21, 2012, in San Diego. With a diverse range of bench-to-bedside programming, speakers, and participants, IDWeek will be a must-attend event for professionals in ID and health care epidemiology that hopefully will establish the tradition of IDWeek as the world’s premier ID meeting.

I look forward to serving you in the coming year as the Society pursues these priorities, in addition to the other work IDSA does on behalf of members. I believe the membership needs to be kept abreast of all important developments, and I will do my best to do so with a variety of methods, including personal emails as well as messages through the IDSA website. I will welcome all of your comments and suggestions. Although we live in challenging times, I know one thing will not change: IDSA’s commitment to serving the needs of its diverse membership.
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