In 1995 a group of chiropractic physicians and neurosurgeons in Chicago recognized the value of establishing an interdisciplinary forum to help improve the continuity and quality of spinecare. They founded an organization originally known as the Chicago Spine Society.
The organization began with an informal series of monthly meetings focused around case discussions with sharing of clinical experiences and perspectives. As a result of these regular meetings, common goals emerged and objectives for the Chicago Spine Society were established. The Society members recognized that neurosurgeons and chiropractic physicians have many things to offer one another in the course of cooperative patient management. The neurosurgeons of this organization recognized the role of chiropractic care. Moreover, chiropractic physicians could openly refer their patients for neurosurgical consultation without difficulty.
As word spread, people became very interested and contacted the group from various areas. It became evident that the Chicago Spine Society could no longer remain as a regional organization. In late 1995 it became a national association, the American Association of Spine Physicians. It evolved into an organization with members in nearly every state, as well as, members from other countries. On November 5-6, 1995 the AASP hosted their inaugural international symposium. This landmark symposium featured as the honored guest, Dr. Manohar Panjabi, preeminent authority on spinal biomechanics, professor at Yale University, and author of the text Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine. The symposium also featured the AASP faculty, comprised of chiropractic physicians and neurosurgeons, who discussed the role of cooperative care, diagnostic methods, and therapeutic options relating to patients with disorders of the cervical and lumbar spine.
The American Academy of Spine Physicians (formerly the American Association of Spine Physicians) has a multidisciplinary Academy Council that is comprised of Spine Physicians bringing together over 200 years of collective experience in the care of patients with spinal disorders. The objectives of the AASP include providing a multidisciplinary platform for continuing education for chiropractors and neurosurgeons. This unparalleled forum helps promote a cooperative approach. Continuing education emphasizes the benefits of cooperative management, as well as of diagnostic methods, spine anatomy, biomechanics, spine neuroscience, treatments and sports medicine-related topics.
Early in 2003 the AASP designed and implemented an unprecedented interactive and interdisciplinary website capable of reaching physicians worldwide. The website contained a broad spectrum of member services and scientific publications. The site provides valuable information for healthcare professionals, patients, the media and the public. The AASP worked closely with the Marine Military Academy in the development of an onsite world class Human Performance Lab (HPL). Consultants from the AASP more recently assisted the Marine Military Academy to help develop and expand neuromuscular testing capabilities within the Lab.
In 2003, the AASP launched a unique online continuing education program for physicians. Over 30 courses were implemented with online tests and sophisticated automated grading and recording systems. At the time it represented one of the most unique self-study programs of its kind. It led the way for other professional organizations. During 2003, shortly after launching the education programs, the AASP unveiled credentialing programs offering physicians of various disciplines the opportunity to achieve Diplomate status with the American Academy of Spine Physicians (DAASP) and Fellow status with the American College of Spine Physicians. The AASP developed numerous high tech methods of communicating with members. For example, in 2004 AASP programmers developed a "futuristic" electronic book (eBook) designed to inform members and potential members about the AASP. The pages are interactive and linked to key areas of the AASP website.
During 2005, the AASP designed and implemented an online nationwide "matchmaking service" to help facilitate the development of multidisciplinary spinecare referral networks. This, combined with the ongoing development of member benefits and services lead to unprecedented growth of the organization during 2005. The American Academy of Spine Physicians received a record number of applications for membership from chiropractic physicians and neurosurgeons.
The AASP expanded its membership categories in 2007 to include other physician members of the spinecare team such as radiologists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, pain management specialists, and rehabilitation specialists. During 2007, the AASP also launched one of the most aggressive national spinecare awareness campaigns ever attempted by any single group or organization. Multiple strategic initiatives were implemented to help educate patients, physicians and the public about the spine, spinecare and the role of spine specialists. The AASP brought together a team of graphic artists, computer programmers, medical writers and physician consultants to initiate the development of one of the largest multimedia databases of "need-to-know" information about the spine and spinecare. The multimedia database of information represents one of the most comprehensive "need-to-know" databases on the spine and spinecare for the public.
During fall of 2007 and spring of 2008 the AASP pioneered a Practice Development Initiative for members. The AASP developed a variety of initiatives including an online PowerPoint slide library and online brochure library. More than 60 brochures were developed and implemented online. Qualified members are entitled to access and download the resources at no cost. The professional appearance of the brochures, their content, and the unifying branding effect were designed to help facilitate an integrated multidisplinary approach to spinecare.
The AASP influence continued to grow. In 2008, the AASP was invited to help develop the infrastructure and informational databases for the International Spine Association (ISA). The ISA is an organization comprised of International Divisions representing countries on six continents. The primary mission of the ISA is to improve the quality of spinecare throughout the world through education. The ISA is committed to disseminating need-to-know information to the public through the World Wide Web in numerous languages, covering many topics related to the spine. The ISA also provides information about Spine Organizations and an International Directory of Spinecare Products. The relationship between the AASP and the ISA represents one of the strongest and most influential of its kind. Working together, both organizations collectively reach all members of the spinecare field and, subsequently, are positioned to "shape the future of spinecare" in the United States and abroad. The AASP also co-developed a Career Enhancement Program for members. This included access to resources for finding employment and navigating career transitions.
Participation with the AASP was not limited to individual members but was expanded in 2008 to include the assistance of companies, which serve the spinecare field. The AASP developed a variety of corporate opportunities which were introduced during the spring of 2008. These programs include participation in the AASP Buying Advantage Program for members and/or becoming a Campaign, Partner, Corporate Partner or Educational Sponsor. This development allows for companies and physicians to work together to improve the delivery of spinecare.
Early in 2010 the AASP launched new and improved member benefits. Emphasis was placed on practice development and patient education opportunities. To help achieve its new goals, the AASP joined efforts with the International Spine Association (ISA). (The ISA is an international organization dedicated to improving spinecare worldwide through educational efforts and resources.) The AASP and ISA began work on the development of a large multimedia database of information about the spine, spine disorders and available spinecare for patients and the public. During this same time frame, the ISA began development of the International Spinecare Directory.
The leaders of the AASP recognized that the majority of patients go to the internet to learn more about the spine, their spine disorder(s), and available spinecare. During late 2010 and throughout 2011 the AASP worked with the ISA to develop spine information script forms which members can use to direct their patients to "need-to-know" information about their diagnosed spine disorder. The spine disorders script form directs the patient to the relevant area of the Public Information Center (PIC) database of the International Spine Association.
The American Academy of Spine Physicians maintains its commitment to excellence and leadership in spinecare. In 2010 Steven L. Ondra, MD, a West Point graduate and internationally acclaimed expert in spinecare and AASP Advisory Council member, was appointed as Senior Health Advisor to the Department of Veterans Affairs of the United States. In 2001 Edward Benzel, MD, an AASP Academy Council member was the recipient of the prestigious Bucy Award, given each year for outstanding educational contributions in neurosurgery. In 2005, Academy Council member George J. Dohrmann, MD, PhD, a founding member of the AASP, was appointed as Rector of Medicine and Science in the honor society of the State of Illinois (The Lincoln Academy of Illinois). Drs. John Shea and George Dohrmann over time have received the Bucy Award for "outstanding contributions to neurosurgical education." In 2012 Dr. Dohrmann received the Career Achievement Award "for exceptional expertise, knowledge, dedication and recognition in the field of neurosurgery and neurological research." In 2013 David H. Durrant, DC, PhD(c), a chiropractic neurologist and founding member of the AASP, published the second printing of his benchmark neurology textbook, Myelopathy, Radiculopathy and Peripheral Entrapment Syndromes.
In late 2014 and early 2015, the AASP designed and developed a new website to accommodate the added membership levels and to better serve spinecare professional of all disciplines and specialties. The website was designed with leading-edge computer programing and information technology and offered many new features and resources. The website offered many of the networking tools and resources made available by large social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The tools and resources were designed to help members develop collaborative relationships and referral networks. An attractive and user friendly member dashboard was implemented to provide members with single location for accessing all member benefits.
In 2014 the AASP opened its membership to include spinecare professionals of all disciplines and specialties including those who are not physicians. This step required the addition of an Affiliate Membership level. The primary purpose of the expanded membership was to better serve all members of the spinecare team, to facilitate collaborative multidisplinary care, and to improve patient outcomes. Non-physician (affiliate) members have access to the full range of member benefits including continuing education opportunities and special certification programs. Affiliate members are eligible to achieve prestigious Fellow status with the American College of Spine Specialists (FACSS). By 2014 the AASP offered over 70 courses with assigned credits which can be applied toward credentialing with the Academy.
Early in 2015 with the help of the AASP, the International Spine Association (ISA) completed three additional script forms to add to the already available Spine Disorders prescription (script) form. The primary topics of the four spine information prescription forms are Spine Disorders, Spinecare Products, Spinecare Disciplines, and Spinecare Treatment options. Each form has a check box next to the subtopics, which the user applies to a graphic version of the form on the ISA website leading them directly to relevant information. The forms were designed for spinecare professionals to direct their patients to "need-to-know" information, an approach which supports personalized care. Each script form directs the patient to the Public Information Center (PIC), a multimedia database of the ISA. All patients with a spine disorder are encouraged to become members of the ISA so they can access up-to-date information about their condition 24/7. Paying members have access to the ISA Buying Advantage Program, which can result in cost savings on purchases. All spinecare professionals have access to the information script forms. However, AASP members can download a personalized version of the forms, which include acknowledgment of Academy credentialed status where applicable.
During the spring of 2015 with the help of the American Academy of Spine Physicians (AASP), the International Spine Association (ISA) expanded the International Spinecare Directory to five subdirectories each with unique participant profiles and search functions. The five subdirectories are the International Directory Spinecare Professionals, International Directory Spinecare Products, International Directory of Companies, International Directory of Spine Organization, and the International Directory of Spinecare Facilities. The expanded directory approach was designed to help bridge-the-gap between the public and spinecare professionals and to provide an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration. The International Directory of Spinecare Products serves as the online catalog for the AASP and ISA Buying Advantage Programs. During the summer of 2015, the American Academy of Spine Physicians developed and launched a networking resource referred to as SpineLink (Spinecare 360). The resource was designed to help members of the Academy invite other professionals to join the AASP and to invite them to join their spinecare network. The resource is linked to a database of invitational and informational documents which can be used to communicate through email and social media forums with other spinecare professionals. During the summer of 2015, the Academy also developed information modules which can be embedded or shared on social media sites. These modules were designed to provide the public with access to selected elements of the Public Information Center (PIC) of the International Spine Association (ISA) and access to spinecare professionals of various disciplines.
Early in 2016 the American Academy of Spine Physicians (AASP) expanded its resources to help increase public awareness about the role of non-physician (Affiliate) members of the spinecare team. Affiliate members include physician's assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, massage therapists, fitness specialists, chiropractic assistants, and acupuncturists. The resources included a series of brochures, which highlight the benefits of conservative and cooperative spinecare. During the summer of 2016 the AASP partnered with the American Hospital Association (AHA) to provide its members with a direct link to their online Health Forum website. This relationship exposes AASP members to timely publications about the latest research, products and services from healthcare leaders. Expanded access to information in the forum will help spinecare professionals navigate the dynamic landscape of healthcare. During the fall of 2016, the Academy developed a resource referred to as Spinecare 360. The resource was designed to provide members with innovative online communication and networking tools which can be used to develop a multidisciplinary spinecare team and to establish a spinecare referral network. Prior to the end of 2016 two new professionals were added to the list of distinguished Academy Council members: John Prunskis, MD, a well-known pain specialist and Ruth Ramsey, MD an internationally recognized neuroradiologst.
During 2017 the AASP introduced a new certification program in HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS & HOSPITAL PRACTICE. AASP leaders recognized that spinecare, as well as, the broad field of healthcare is rapidly evolving, influenced by the explosion of big data and the convergence of technologies. In addition to this trend, there is a growing appreciation for the complexities of disease and the role of personalized healthcare. Subsequently, new healthcare models are emerging which provide the foundation for collaborative multidisciplinary efforts. The AASP is committed to preparing its members to work in multidisciplinary settings, including healthcare systems and hospitals. Success requires specialized insights and training. Courses were designed to help prepare members for affiliation or employment with large healthcare systems and/or hospitals. The coursework was developed by experts in fields such as medicine, hospital administration, healthcare information technology, healthcare informatics, healthcare industry quality improvement, evidence-based care, hospital administration, and multidisciplinary healthcare.
In 2017 the Academy introduced new resources to help members educate their patients and other healthcare providers. The new resources included the development of a PowerPoint slide archive designed to be updated. In 2017 the AASP expanded its membership to include public health professionals. AASP leaders recognized that chronic spine disorders, including low back pain, had become a major public health concern in the United States and worldwide, representing one of the most common, costly and disabling musculoskeletal disorders. AASP leadership recognized that public health professionals are concerned with advancing equality in healthcare access, as well as, implementing public policies to promote health. Public health professional were identified as representing an important part of some spinecare teams. The AASP also expanded its affiliate membership to include certified orthotists, a specially trained healthcare professional, who evaluates, measures, designs, fabricates and/or fits specialized supports and braces. The AASP expanded its virtual platform to offer special resources for the new member categories.
Early in 2018 the American Academy of Spine Physicians decided to lead the effort in the exploration of the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in spinecare. To help achieve this goal, the AASP developed the Spinecare Data Science Committee to serve as a forum for collaboration between spinecare professionals, AI developers, data scientists, and other industry leaders to investigate AI solutions at different levels of spinecare. The goals of the committee include identification of areas of spinecare which could benefit from the use of AI solutions and computational methods. The goals also include exploration of the potential impact and role of automatic detection and characterization of pathology (radiomics) in spine imaging. The volume and complexity of data in spinecare is growing exponentially. The unprecedented growth of data is primarily arising from expanding electronic medical records along with advances in diagnostic methods, such as genetics, laboratory studies, and advanced imaging. AASP leadership recognized the importance of helping shape the future of AI use in spinecare. The AASP is committed to preparing spinecare providers for the disruptive influence, as well as, and favorable potential of AI solutions.
In 2018 the AASP took extraordinary steps to become one of the most influential spine organizations in the world. This included expanding the website platform to include new resources and opportunities to help bridge-the-gap between all stakeholders in spinecare including spinecare professionals, organizations, educational institutions, product manufacturers, third-party payers and healthcare facilities. This unification process was designed to promote collaborative efforts and to prepare spinecare stakeholders for the changing healthcare landscape. To help achieve this goal, the Academy strengthened its relationship with the International Spine Association (ISA), an organization dedicated to offering the public access to multimedia resources. During the summer of 2018 Dr. John Prunskis, a distinguished member of the AASP Academy Council, was appointed to the newly developed Pain Task Force of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Prunskis represents one of 28 people of varying backgrounds and expertise appointed to the Federal Task Force, which was developed to address how patients are being treated for pain using opioids. During the fall of 2018, Dr. David Durant, also a distinguished member of the AASP Academy Council, was invited by IBM to serve as a thought leader for a special meeting convened by IBM to address the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in radiology. Dr. Durrant is in the final stage of completing of a PhD in Health Services with an emphasis on AI applications in neuroimaging and potential role of the "virtual biopsy".. Dr. George Dohrmann, AASP Academy Council Member and neurosurgeon at the University of Chicago, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting of the NeuroSpinal Surgeons Association held in New Delhi, India.