Published: October 1, 2023

Policy Ahead of Politics for a Healthier Healthcare Future

The Academy serves subspeciality areas by providing forums for leaders to work together on common problems, and to advocate on the regulatory and legislative spaces effectively.

Douglas D. Backous, MD AAO-HNS/F PresidentDouglas D. Backous, MD
AAO-HNS/F President
Welcome to the beautiful autumn months and thank you for the privilege of serving as your President for the next year. My vision is for each of us to practice otolaryngology in the most effective way that works for our patients, partners, communities, and ourselves. Protecting the autonomy and integrity of otolaryngology practice requires attention to advocacy and making clear distinctions about our identity and what we offer across the healthcare marketplace. I am impressed at the potential synergies our Academy continues to work toward achieving, both within our membership and with other medical societies and industry partners.

In recent weeks, the Private Practice Study Group has completed their requirements and now has officially become the Otolaryngology Private Practice Section (OPPS). The revived energy in this practice segment of our Academy brings together experiences from private surgeons from all regions of the country, from rural to metropolitan practices, and creates a common voice to partner with our academic colleagues to protect some of the top priorities of the AAO-HNS/F, including scope of practice, patient access, payment structure, and the quality of resident education. The Board of Governors will maintain their role in providing programing and grassroots efforts around advocacy and education.

Advocacy continues to be identified by Academy members practicing in the United States as a significant membership benefit. As such, my goal is to see increased participation in the ENT PAC.* Advocacy is our collective responsibility, together we must put policy ahead of politics. For some that means going to our local, state, and national elected officials and telling critical patient stories or providing needed context for our policy positions. For others, giving to the PAC supports our efforts when they do not have time to personally lobby and testify. Our Advocacy team does an amazing service to our patients and members by partnering with other professional organizations to amplify our message and place it in a larger context. Investment in ENT PAC demonstrates support for our Academy’s policy agenda and lets our own Advocacy team know that we stand behind their tireless work at the national and state levels. 

Collaboration extends beyond advocacy in the work of the AAO-HNS/F. Logical, compliant, and mutually beneficial relationships with corporate partners enable members and industry to drive innovation while ensuring ethical activity. Academy members can access the latest technology and products not only at the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO Experience, but also throughout the year due to ongoing programs and grants. Our organization works hard to be good stewards of our resources, which allows our education materials to remain accessible and relevant to members at all levels of training.

The American Board of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (ABOHNS) partners with our Academy around education content. Many of us support the ABOHNS by writing questions, serving as examiners, and taking advantage of programs such as CERTLinkTM to maintain certification.

Providing education extends beyond early-career and longtime practicing otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons. We relate to people in all specialties in medicine. This opens the door for the AAO-HNS/F to play a central role in facilitating opportunities for high school and college students to choose careers in science and medicine. Although we aim to capture great medical students into our future ranks, we take pride in any student who is given a chance to pursue their dreams in healthcare because of participating in a local course, preceptorship, or job-shadowing opportunity with an ENT surgeon.

As we just witnessed in Nashville, the AAO-HNSF provides that essential meeting place for otolaryngologists from around the world to find caring colleagues, to discover innovative therapies and ideas, and to share solutions to common problems in healthcare policy and patient access. Our Annual Meeting and the work of our International and Global Affairs team all year long enhance access to global education, provide expert speakers for Joint Meetings, and create opportunities for faculty to present research and clinical advances in our many education formats.

The Academy serves all subspeciality areas by providing forums for leaders to share ideas, to work together on common problems, and to advocate on the regulatory and legislative spaces effectively. The Academy is important to the success of each of our specialty societies.

As we enter a new election cycle in the U.S., the Academy will continue to maintain a critical voice as healthcare will undoubtably be an important theme in state and national campaigns. Progress in areas such as developing episodes of care parameters will enable otolaryngologists to compete in the growing value-based healthcare market. Working with seemingly competitive specialties around common legislation has the opportunity to significantly improve the overall health of the communities we serve as our population diversifies and ages.

I will explore many of these themes in monthly President’s columns over the next year. I look forward to serving you so we can all look back on the year with satisfaction at what we accomplished for our patients and our specialty. Together we are one.

*Contributions to ENT PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary, and all members of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits ENT PAC from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. By law, if your contributions are made using a personal check or credit card, ENT PAC may use your contribution only to support candidates in federal elections. All corporate contributions to ENT PAC will be used for educational and administrative fees of ENT PAC, and other activities permissible under federal law. Federal law requires ENT PAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.