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Address of the Executive Vice President

June 18, 2011

AMA Annual Meeting
Chicago, Illinois

Michael D. Maves MD, MBA
Executive Vice President, CEO
American Medical Association

Thank you for that welcome. It's good to be among you for a short while longer.

As an otolaryngologist, I know how important it is to have a voice. I'm proud to have been         privileged to lend mine to the AMA for the past ten years.  It has truly been an honor.

I like to think it's been a voice of reason,  sound guidance and,  ultimately, for progress. And as a man who has dared to stand in front of his employees while wearing a giant turkey suit, I like to think it's been a voice that hasn't been afraid of advocating for what's right.  Even when I knew my tail feathers might get singed!

Usually, on this occasion, I would stand before you to tell you about our goals for the year ahead. Today, as I wrap up my time with the AMA, I will ask you to permit me to reflect on some of our accomplishments over the last decade and leave you with some final thoughts.

I feel incredible pride in what we have all accomplished. We have made the AMA financially healthy and ready to stay the course for the future.

Our management team is strong.  We have recruited some of the best and brightest from various industries, to lend new creative thinking to our team. Our marketing efforts are focused.

And we've made sure that the AMA has had a voice that even an otolaryngologist would find impressive.

There have been struggles, of course. But in the end, I take pleasure in what we have done with the AMA in a decade that has brought us tremendous challenges, including a major recession,  association apathy that cuts across all professions,  a huge surge in the way we all interact with technology,  and the biggest healthcare debate since the formation of Medicare. In short, it's been anything but boring.

Financial success

One of the things I'm most proud of is the financial health of the AMA. Maybe it's the MBA in me. Even in times during which membership was a struggle, we managed to be profitable. Oftentimes, extremely profitable.

When I arrived here in 2002, we were coming off a year in which annual operating results were only about $5 million. In my first year, we more than doubled that. And by 2004, we hit nearly $40 million.

I can't say that we achieved success without sacrifice. When revenues plummeted in 2008, we made some difficult decisions that were tough, both on me and on our staff. But I was willing to make them because I knew that my ultimate responsibility was to keep the AMA healthy.  Maybe that's the physician in me.

By the end of 2009, operating results were back up over $16 million, and last year we came just shy of hitting $24 million, thanks in large part to strong publishing and business revenues.

And in 2010 we marked our 11th straight year of operating profits. All of us can justifiably be   proud of those results in a tough economy.

For the AMA, solid financial standing means we have the resources and reserves to be effective in our service to physicians and our public policy initiatives.

Strong team

We couldn't have made such strides without a strong management team.

From day one, I've taken very seriously my role in making sure we have top people in our top jobs, and investing in their talents. I took care in choosing a team that was up to the task of furthering both the historic mission of the AMA and guiding it into a future of advocacy and relevancy. Some were seasoned AMA veterans. Some came from the outside. Many of them are still ably guiding us.

They brought many positive ideas, proving once again that good people with good education and broad experience are the foundation of success.

But process and strategy count too.

If you remember, shortly after I came to the AMA, we began the “Organization of Organizations” project at the behest of the HOD, followed by an in-depth review of membership and business processes.

It set the groundwork for much of what we accomplished, establishing the strategic direction, to better prioritize our business planning for today and the future.

In closing my comments on our team, I want to personally welcome Dr. James Madara as your new CEO. Extend him same courtesies and candor that you did to me when I arrived.

I have known Jim through his previous work at the University of Chicago and want to assure you that he will prove to be an excellent leader and find much success, in his new position.

Marketing

Part of that effort has been establishing a strong, cohesive brand image for the AMA. Branding is more than making sure your brochures looks good. It's also about building strength by making sure everyone–internally and externally– understands the vision of who you are and what you stand for.
And it's about sticking to that vision, and living that vision in our professional lives.

Sometimes, it seemed, that our AMA vision was myopic–there was a lot of image fragmentation, and we weren't always consistent.

I recognized that we needed a Chief Marketing Officer. Someone who could help the AMA speak with a stronger, more unified voice and bring consistency to our brand. Before, we couldn't spell CMO, now we can't envision living without one.

We created powerful, effective campaigns like “Everyday Heroes” and “Voice for the Uninsured”.

Perhaps for the first time, during my tenure we presented a single face to the physicians and patients we serve.

We also found new partners, including the AARP, and the US Chamber that had missions complementary to our own. And, we reached out more vigorously to state and specialty associations, and to our members through Member Connect.

We re-designed the AMA website to draw greater attention to the important issues of the day and we're committed to its continuous improvement.

We've continued to be aggressive with our marketing to connect with physicians in more meaningful ways and we launched AMA Wire and AMA Advantage.  We're on Facebook and LinkedIn. 

We tweet multiple times a day.  We racked up over $40 million in earned media in 2010 alone and we have the highest Klout score of any medical society.

We got better at communicating with our members–we email our “Morning Rounds” news roundup to more than 90,000 members each weekday.

We even launched new publications. The Journal of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness was especially successful.

So it isn't just a slogan: We are Moving Medicine Forward. And, Together We Are Stronger.

AMA as relevant national player

We drew on that strength like never before when it came time to help shape the national healthcare debate.

While not everyone agreed with the final AMA position, to be silent would have been to be irrelevant.

Instead, we have remained the most prominent voice of the medical profession, both in the eyes of the public and in Washington, D.C., where the most important decisions are made. And make no mistake about it, issues will continue to arise that will demand that you be heard again.

With hundreds of specialty and subspecialty associations out there, it's been particularly important to make sure that our impact as physicians is not fragmented–that at least one voice is powerful enough to be heard by everyone.

Without that voice, we might not have gotten the extension that again delayed Medicare reimbursement cuts.

Without that voice, we probably wouldn't have the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.

Without that voice, we might not have the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.

Without that voice, we wouldn't have the bipartisan power of AMPAC, or National House Call, and we might have fewer physician-friendly faces on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

And without that voice, it is unlikely to see much movement on medical liability reform, SGR repeal, private contracting or the many other issues that directly affect physicians, their patients and their communities.

That's not a voice any of us wants to lose. And we've worked exceptionally hard to make sure that that voice stays strong. It's no coincidence that we moved our D.C. offices closer to the action–we now literally have closer proximity to power in Washington.

Also, let's stay the course on Health System reform – better to be on the train than run over by it! As our keynote speaker at the OMSS session earlier today said: Leadership in Health Care Change – if not us, WHO?

Responsiveness

But we also have ears. We know that today's physicians often feel under siege, often by productivity quotas, insurance paperwork and their own desire for a work-life balance. Just as we've created advocacy programs to help doctors achieve their higher goals, we've worked toward giving them more products to help them in their daily professional lives.

 Ambitious efforts like the AMAGINE physician platform, and our AMA Practice Management Center that offer an array or resources to help you manage the business side of your practices.

The AMA team is working hard to respond to your needs and I hope you will continue to share your input and insight to ensure our efforts are strategic, relevant and wise.

Thanks to staff

Finally, as I leave, I want to voice my appreciation to the entire AMA staff, from the guys on the basement loading dock to the great staff in executive offices on the 16th floor.  On my first day at the AMA I shook everyone's hand in the building and asked them to help me. They did just that.

In addition to doing an outstanding job, the employees of the AMA made my tenure both more rewarding and, often times, more fun. It was part of my job to motivate them, but in many ways, it was they who motivated me.

For every time I pulled on the goalie pads or a chicken outfit,  cooked hamburgers and brats for the AMA picnic,  or played the Chicago Blackhawks theme song to raise the energy in the room, they were right there, ready to win one for the team. They've done a great job of supporting me as well as supporting one another and standing strong for the AMA and our profession.

The people here produced a video a while back featuring our employees speaking about me as their CEO, friend–and secret lover of figure skating! I was touched by much of what they said, but one comment really stands out as appropriate for this occasion. In that video, Mike Skowronski, one of our directors in Finance said of me, “He's always said thank you.”

I wouldn't want to contradict them.

So to Mike, and to all of you, thank you very much!

Thank you to my AMA staff for making me feel welcome from the very start. Thank you for making these last ten years a time of deep satisfaction.  Thank you for being a part of the house of medicine, and a big part of my own family.

And, of course, I thank you, our delegates. Thank you for being physicians who care deeply about your profession. Thank you for giving so much time to your AMA activities, when you doubtlessly have families, friends and other ways you might want to spend a lovely weekend in June. I appreciate you always letting me know where you stand, whether or not you agreed with me. Thank you for being here today. And, thank you for letting me stand before you and offer my voice for these past several years. Namaste.

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