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Rough sailing on a sea of gray

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April 30, 2018
by Brian J. McKinnon, MD, MBA, MPH, FACS


It is not news that our patients are aging. It is not news that older patients pose unique clinical challenges. It is not news that the health insurer for these patients, Medicare, is under tremendous pressure to reduce the cost of providing healthcare for older patients. It is not news that the level of political inaction, which borders on indifference, is resulting in the problems associated with our aging population becoming ever more daunting, and potentially insurmountable. What is not news is that the physician workforce is graying, a process that will increase the burden on those who continue in active practice. What may be news to many of our colleagues is that there is an otolaryngology society, the American Society of Geriatric Otolaryngology, that has made its mission to assist otolaryngologists in navigating the rough sea of gray.

Founded a decade ago, the American Society of Geriatric Otolaryngology (ASGO) has engaged with the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), the Triological Society, and other specialty societies, to prepare our specialty for the gray tsunami. ASGO has focused, and will continue to focus, on understanding the unique clinical challenges older patients face, and pose. The AAO-HNS and the Triological Society deserve mention for their support and assistance with arranging meeting space for ASGO's annual meeting.

ASGO, through its annual meeting, has tackled such diverse topics as preoperative management of the older surgical patient, presbylaryngis, presbycusis, presbystasis, swallowing disorders, end of life, head and neck oncology, vestibular evaluation, bone-anchored hearing aid and cochlear implantation in the elderly, the future of Medicare, and when not to operate.

ASGO members not only contribute with lectures and peer-reviewed medical literature, but they also have collaborated to author, with the assistance of Thieme Medical Publishers and AAO-HNS, the textbook Geriatric Otolaryngology (2015, Print ISBN: 9781626239777, EBook ISBN: 9781626239784). Edited by Dr. Robert T. Sataloff, Dr. Michael Johns, and Dr. Karen Kost, the text is an essential resource for otolaryngologists and other health professionals who care for older patients.

Why engage with and through ASGO? Where others see only overwhelming challenges, ASGO sees remarkable opportunity for independent thinking and action by a group of like-minded otolaryngologists. While acknowledging the difficult facts of the current reality, ASGO is driven by the belief that by working through those same challenges as concerned and engaged colleagues, we can, in the end, ensure that geriatric otolaryngology patients receive the care they need, and that those who care for geriatric patients are compensated fairly. Annual dues are modest at $100 a year and include the annual meeting. Residents have no annual dues and have an annual opportunity to present their research related to geriatric otolaryngology.

For those interested, ASGO's secretary, Dr. Carl Shipp, would welcome an inquiry: GCShipp@uams.edu.


Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia
Ear Nose Throat J. 2018 April-May;97(4-5):106