Presidential Matters April 2017

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April 2017

Dear Colleague,

I am honored to begin my year of service as President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be an action-packed year, with tons of important and engaging work! Forward motion!

With a phenomenally successful 2017 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer behind us, the SGO resumes its focus on the most pressing issues affecting us in our daily practice of gynecologic oncology. The Health Policy and Socioeconomic Committee and its four dynamite task forces – Coding and Reimbursement, Future of Physician Payment Reform, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, and Policy, Quality and Outcomes – represent a significant portion of our organizational effort.

Carol L. Brown, MD, President-Elect I, is turning the reigns of this committee over to President-Elect II, Warner K. Huh, MD. The Policy, Quality and Outcomes Task Force will be developing plans for how we can move forward in developing Patient Reported Outcomes Measures. The Future of Physician Payment Reform Task Force will be continuing its work with Alternative Payment Model development, hoping to partner with insurance companies on these efforts. The Coding and Reimbursement Task Force continues to be highly responsive to the needs of our membership, answering all questions in a timely fashion and working specifically on a new CPT application to assist members with billing concerns. Finally, the Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Task Force is making significant progress on securing FY 2018 funding for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program at the Department of Defense (DoD), while simultaneously addressing the future of the Affordable Care Act, the clinical trials crisis, and National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) funding.

As if that were not enough, we still have the 2018 Proposed Medicare Rules ahead of us requiring attention and comment. We, as a Society, are indebted to the time and effort that our membership (meaning you) devotes to these vitally important, volunteer efforts. Thank you a million times over.

The decrease in the availability clinical trials for women with gynecologic cancers is a major concern for all of us. Since the consolidation of cooperative groups, accrual to all adult National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) trials has decreased by an estimated 33%. During the same timeframe, a disproportionate and massive reduction of 82% in accrual for gynecologic oncology clinical trials has taken place. The disproportionate decrease in gynecologic oncology trial funding and availability has diminished (and will continue to diminish) our ability to improve treatment outcomes for the women we care for.

The SGO is committed to improving not only the availability of clinical trials for women with gynecologic cancers, but also ease of enrollment. On Nov. 5, 2016, the newly formed SGO Clinical Trials Task Force convened with all appropriate stakeholders, forming the following working groups: SGO Legislative/Congressional Ambassadors Working Group, Communications Working Group, Patient Advocacy Working Group, Next Generation of Scientists in Clinical Trial Design Working Group, and the Public/Private Partnership Working Group.

On Saturday, March 11, 2017, the Public/Private Partnership Working Group, whose mission is to improve the availability of clinical trials, held its first meeting. Representatives from the SGO and its foundation, the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, NRG Oncology, NCI, GOG Foundation, DoD, industry, patient advocates, and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance were present. Prioritization of work effort with identification of barriers and strategies to overcome these barriers is close to completion. Tremendous momentum exists within our organization to address this vitally important issue. We welcome (and need) your assistance.

The SGO now has more than 2,000 members, and there has never been a more important time for us to work together on every front to continue to deliver the highest quality care to women with gynecologic cancers. Please feel free to contact me at laurel.rice@sgo.org if you are interested in becoming more involved with the important work of our Society.
Best regards,

Laurel W. Rice, MD
SGO President