Urologists, lawmakers share experience, expertise at AACU event


Based on a partnership with Urology Times, articles from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or info@aacuweb.org for more information.

A record number of urologists attended the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) 2018 State Society Network Advocacy Conference held Oct. 20-21. The inventive program included nationally recognized specialists in the art and science of medicine, as well as urologists with unique professional experiences and socioeconomic expertise.

State Society Network Chair Kevin Loughlin, MD, achieved several goals in terms of programming and attendee demographics to distinguish the 10th annual event. Continuing medical education sessions kicked off the conference featuring private practice, academic, and hospital-employed urologists from across the country. Presenters addressed varied scientific topics and practical take-home tips to enhance attendees' skills not only in the clinic, but the board room, as well.

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"I am proud that our program included young urologists, female urologists, and urologists from every type of practice setting," Dr. Loughlin reported. "Expanding our reach to these audiences will benefit the entire profession, as will appealing to urologists from distinct locales. Physician pre-meeting registration from a record 39 states set a new conference standard."

Dr. Loughlin continued, "In the 21st century, 'advocacy' is required by each of us to ensure government and payer intrusions do not permanently harm the doctor-patient relationship."

To this end, several past presidents of the AACU and subject matter experts addressed topics in a block of programming entitled, “Advocating for Your Patients, Practice and Profession.” Illinois State Urology Society Secretary Christopher Coogan, MD, author of several seminal papers on medical liability in urology, explained that something other than negligence drives malpractice suits. The AACU's representative to the American Board of Urology, Mark Austenfeld, MD, detailed the transition from high-stakes testing to lifelong learning. Jeffrey Frankel, MD, and Richard Pelman, MD, meanwhile, spoke to the nuts and bolts of individual and society-based state advocacy.

Next: Burnout, clinical care topics discussed


Practical concerns took center stage on day two of the conference. Burnout is well known to many urologists. What to do about it is another matter altogether. Panelists addressing this issue discussed innovative pay arrangements, integration of scribes and non-physician providers, and the importance of exercise. A moderated conversation on the changing landscape of urologic practice painted a picture of current trends and depicted a day in the life of a private practice, academic medical center, and VA physician. How to code in this changing environment was covered by a urologist turned consultant, Michael Ferragamo, MD.

The latest developments in the rollout of post-SGR Medicare payment programs naturally followed this discourse. Ted Long, MD, MHS, acting senior medical officer in CMS's Quality Measurement and Value-Based Incentives Group, eagerly shared information and welcomed questions on MACRA, MIPS, and more. In particular, participants and the presenter conferred on the 2018 payment program, quality measure development, and “pick your pace” options.

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Clinical care topics were extensively covered and included prostate cancer genomics, active surveillance for prostate cancer, intravesical therapy for bladder cancer, surgical treatment of advanced renal cancer, and male health issues.

Several high-profile speakers, including North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (a urologist), former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD, and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) provided exclusive insight that placed the audience into the minds of those leaders who will determine urologists' place in the state and federal policy-making apparatus. A key takeaway from each of these respected legislators: Grassroots engagement, along the lines of the mobilizing activities undertaken by the AACU, is vitally important to inform the decisions of politicians and policymakers alike.

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