| May 1, 2012
Twice each year, your ASAM Board of Directors conducts business of the organization in person. This is in addition to several teleconferences each year. One of the live meetings takes place in the two days before our annual meeting. We opened our meeting two weeks ago with a strategic planning session focused on the potential directions our organization can take in the coming years. Two choices rose to the top:
The first deals specifically with membership and our current eligibility requirements that only physicians can join. The Board discussed at great length the pros and cons of opening membership up to those other than physicians, and there are clearly arguments that can be made for both sides. Ultimately, the Board asked that our staff prepare information that explores in greater depth the mechanisms that might be utilized to accomplish this task. The simplest approach, that of removing the eligibility criterion and changing nothing else, would leave ASAM a very different organization ultimately.
To present an analogy, let's say that 500 of us are members of a tennis club. We decide to add a golf course so that we can attract additional members. 1000 golfers join the club. They decide the tennis courts are in the way of a planned driving range and putting green. The 500 original members, finding that the club no longer meets their needs, leave to start a new tennis club. Now you could say that this is a terrible analogy, that so long as the other healthcare professionals who join ASAM have the needs of all our patients at heart, we'd all have the same goals. But I think that while we'd largely have the same goals, it's critical to ensure that our current members' needs remain met even within an organization where they could be a minority. This will likely require some creative approaches to the membership model as well as our overall business strategy.
This is in the planning stages, so now is the time for you to provide input to your Board representatives.
The second strategic issue that we asked to have addressed is the possibility of ASAM certification for practices. Facilities currently can seek generic certification from a variety of sources, such as the Joint Commission. But there is no certification specific for addiction practices. A variety of reasons were considered as background for exploring this issue further. Among them was the issue of how one can distinguish a "pill-mill" from a vibrant and busy addiction practice. In a "pill-mill," a physician might issue a large number of prescriptions for controlled substances. In a busy addiction practice, the same is true. A glance at the volume of prescriptions will not differentiate between the tapering or appropriate maintenance of the addiction practice and the inappropriate prescribing of the "pill-mill." If ASAM developed a set of criteria by which practices could be certified, the certified practices would have some degree of protection as a result of their following reasonable peer guidelines. Here too, there are pros and cons that were quickly recognized and discussed, but ultimately the Board felt that this should be investigated as a potential organizational activity.
Here too, if you have ideas and thoughts, please bring them to your Board representatives so that we can discuss them.
Our Board meetings are open. Any member can attend the entire meeting but for the rare occasion in which we go into executive session. If you're interested in attending, please let us know in advance so that we can send you a copy of the agenda and provide you with the date and time of the session.
It was a pleasure visiting with so many of you at our meeting in Atlanta!