November 10-15

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ACR Convergence 2023

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Board of Directors meets during the Annual Meeting


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On Saturday, the ACR Board of Directors met to discuss current and future initiatives impacting its 9,500 members. Here is a summary of the meeting.

Support for Research and Advocacy
The Rheumatology Research Foundation has received $10.5 million from the ACR over the years, leveraging as much as $80 million from other supporters, said Eric L. Matteson, MD, Foundation president. In the past five years the Foundation has provided $48 million for advanced research translating into a subsequent $76 million in NIH grants; and focused investment in training and workforce development has contributed to a 35 percent increase annually in the number of rheumatology fellows graduating each year. The Foundation is hopeful to wrap up its Journey to Cure campaign at the Annual Meeting. Donations can be made at, the Donors’ Lounge in the East Overlook, the ACR Discovery Center, or by texting “RHEUM” to 41444.

Harry Gewanter, MD, also pitched support for RheumPAC. So far in 2016, the bipartisan PAC raised $96,740 and disbursed $93,000, he reported. In the next year, RheumPAC seeks to increase membership participation and raise $200,000. U.S. attendees can participate by visiting the RheumPAC booth at the ACR Discovery Center in the exhibit hall or online at

ARHP Update and Expanded Education
ARHP President Elizabeth Schlenk, PhD, RN, updated the Board on the association’s growth and 2017 goals. ARHP currently has more than 1,300 members and will hold 50 health professional sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting.

After the Annual Meeting, the ARHP will launch its new OA and RA Rheumatology eBytes. They will be the first of many short, engaging online CME courses for the busy health professional.

RISE Soars Higher
The ACR’s patient registry, RISE, continues to grow and the pipeline is robust, said Salahuddin “Dino” Kazi, MD. RISE currently has had more than 3.5 million encounters, and 1.15 million RA encounters, he said. There are 764,495 patients included in RISE, with 493 fully connected and 705 contracted providers.

Annual Meeting attendees can learn more about RISE at the ACR Discovery Center in the Exhibit Hall. Annual Meeting sessions focused on RISE can be found in the Annual Meeting App and will offer tips to implement quality measures into your practice, and data on practice-level variation in quality of care seen in RISE, Dr. Kazi said.

Maintenance of Certification
Guest speaker Richard Barron, MD, MACP, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine, addressed the Board on the frequency of ABIM certification examinations. While secure examinations are now taken every 10 years for licensing, proposed models would test at two- or five-year intervals, Dr. Baron said. The Board offered their feedback, including open-book tests with instant explanations of incorrect answers.

Workforce Study
Results of the 2015 ACR Workforce Study are available online now, said Anne R. Bass, MD. Innovative solutions to a pressing workforce shortage, including increasing the supply of rheumatologists, developing novel approaches to care, improving the geographical distribution of rheumatologists, and attracting and retaining academic rheumatologists, are high priorities for the ACR, she said.

Microgrants to supplement educators’ salaries, efforts to encourage mentorship, and developing a musculoskeletal curriculum for primary-care physicians, NPs, and PAs are all part of the effort to expand the workforce, Dr. Bass noted.

Healthy Publications
Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, editor of Arthritis & Rheumatology, reported on the journal’s growth, including an 11 percent increase in article submission from two years ago. A&R has a 17.9 percent acceptance rate, indicating its rigorous standards, and leads rheumatology journals in total citations and article downloads, Dr. Bucala reported.

Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH, editor of Arthritis Care & Research, reported that projected total submissions for 2016 are 1,377, an eight percent increase over 2015. Enhanced service to its authors includes shorter time to review and prompt feedback. A new task force will focus on ways to connect fellows to extra learning opportunities, Hannan said.

Simon Helfgott, MD, physician editor of The Rheumatologist, reported on the magazine’s format changes in 2016, as well as mobile-friendly versions, and new e-newsletters ACR@Work and eNewsRheum. For the seventh consecutive year, the magazine received the Award for Publication Excellence (APEX) in 2016.

MACRA Rolls Out
Just days after the presidential election, Government Affairs Committee Chair William Harvey, MD, reported on potential impacts to rheumatologists, including a modified Affordable Care Act, and potential repeals of IPAB, CMMI, and the universal mandate.

MACRA will likely stay in place as it has been a bipartisan program, Dr. Harvey said. He also proposed that the ACR disband an existing MACRA Working Group and distribute remaining educational activities to existing committees. Annual Meeting attendees can get more information about MACRA, including payment models, at several sessions. Douglas White, MD, Chair of the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, reported on ACR efforts to explore a potential physician-focused Alternative Payment Model framework for rheumatology, with a diverse group of leaders meeting over the coming months to develop potential plans.

Important Allies
The Board received updates from Ann Palmer, Arthritis Foundation CEO, Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD, NIAMS director, and Daniel Rotrosen, MD, director of the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT) at NIAID, about current initiatives that affect the rheumatology community, including research funding trends.

General Business
The Board carried a motion to accept the slate of new ACR and ARHP members, approved the audited financial statements, approved a new Member-at-Large Secretary position for ARHP, and approved a modification to the ARHP procedural rules.