ASE’s Involvement with Chagas Disease Expected to be the Catalyst for More Action

Dr. Federico Asch, MedStar Health, recently represented ASE as the only U.S.-based speaker at a congress in Mexico City commemorating the 110-year discovery of Chagas Disease. Dr. Asch’s involvement as co-chair of ASE’s 2018 guideline document on Chagas disease (translated in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese) and his role as the ASE leader of “Project Chagas,” an ASE Foundation (ASEF) global health initiative that focused on pre-identified patients diagnosed with Chagas disease, made him a logical choice for this speaking engagement.

A collaboration between government and academia, the three-day meeting was organized by Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, one of the largest public universities in Latin America, and CENAPRECE, the preventative disease group within Mexico’s national Department of Health. The overarching goal was to increase awareness of Chagas disease among the community and to understand the status of multiple initiatives being conducted at a regional and national level to improve disease detection and treatment through collaborations between institutions and caregivers at different levels. The meeting focused on three sections – the parasite, the vector, and the disease – and was attended by microbiologists, epidemiologists, and physicians, mostly from within Mexico.  Dr. Asch’s presentation was on the findings of the ASEF Project Chagas activity in Mérida, which were previously presented at ASE Scientific Sessions 2019 in Portland.

The Chagas conference gave representatives from ASE and Mexican government and academia the opportunity to come together. Left to right: Dra. Bertha Espinoza Gutierrez, UNAM, CDMX; Dr. Federico Asch, ASE; Dr. Adolfo Chavez Mendoza, Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia and Secretariat of Health; Yurika Manuel Valencia, CENAPRECE.

The goal of ASEF’s Project Chagas was to investigate the prevalence of Chagas cardiomyopathy, detect those individuals previously undiagnosed, and connect them with local cardiologists who would provide proper cardiac care within the regional public system. ASE physician and sonographer volunteers worked alongside representatives from CENAPRECE and the Yucatan Health Service, volunteers from the National Cardiology Association of Mexico (ANCAM), and industry partners from Philips Mexico Commercial S.A. de C.V.  The event was hosted by the project’s institutional partner, Hospital General Agustin O Horan in Mérida.

When asked about his takeaways from the meeting, Dr. Asch stated, “My main take was how the ASEF/ANCAM experience brings a call for reality, understanding how underdiagnosed the cardiac disease of Chagas is, and how it brings an opportunity for action to detect and treat these people. The wide interest from experts around the country and the Public Services was strong and their intent for expanding Project Chagas into other regions of the country is there. We expect to be the catalyst for that action.”

For more information about cardiac imaging of patients with Chagas disease, read the 2018 ASE guideline document, and also this information about “Project Chagas,” the ASEF global health initiative held in August 2018 in Mérida, Yucatán, México.

 

 

ASE Headquarters – COVID-19 Update

Beginning March 26, 2020, the county where the ASE Headquarters is located is under a government order to “Stay at Home” due to the spread of the coronavirus. These “Stay at Home” recommendations continue to be in effect and depend on the infection rates in the County/State. ASE will keep all but essential personnel telecommuting until a time when it is judged safe to return to work. We are not suspending or closing operations; our employees will remain working and providing excellent customer service to our members and the cardiovascular ultrasound community. However, ASE will slightly modify its official open hours to 9 AM – 4 PM Eastern TimeMonday-Friday. Should you need to get in touch with a staff person, call our main office at 919-861-5574 and a phone list by department will be available. A staff directory is also available here. All general questions can also be sent through ASE@ASEcho.org. Thank you and our best wishes for your continued safety.

New 3D Imaging Code Survey Needs U.S. Physician Input

This is your opportunity to participate in the Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) process to ensure fair and adequate code valuation. The proposed CPT add-on code that describes the additional work required for 3D imaging, in addition to the base echocardiography service, is currently under review at the AMA RUC. Your participation in the RUC survey process is key in the assessment of the time, complexity, and physician work value for these procedures. If you were randomly selected, you received an email from “Qualtrics” with the subject line, “AMA RUC Survey – 3D Imaging of Cardiac Structures.” We ask you to look for it in all your email folders, as many members have found the survey in their spam/junk folder.

More information about the RUC and the survey process is available here.The AMA has created a video to explain the purpose of the survey process and provide specific instructions on how to complete the survey accurately. Please contact Irene Butler, ASE’s Vice President of Health Policy & Member Relations at IButler@ASEcho.org, with any questions. We greatly appreciate your time, input, and expertise.