By: Matthew Nielsen, MD, MS | Posted on: 01 Aug 2022

It is a great honor for me to write to you today in my first column as Chair of the AUA’s Science & Quality (S&Q) Council. For those of you I haven’t yet had the chance to meet, I grew up in the Midwest, completed medical school and residency at Johns Hopkins and joined the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill in 2008, where I currently serve as Professor and Chair. I’m a urologic oncologist and health services researcher and have had the privilege to serve in a variety of roles locally at UNC and nationally with the AUA and other organizations at the interface of quality, policy and evidence-based performance improvement.

The AUA established the S&Q Council structure in 2014, with J. Stuart Wolf as the inaugural Chair. This structure integrates and coordinates efforts across the Data, Guidelines and Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (QIPS) Committees, creating invaluable strategic alignment to support the mission of advancing urology. After completing the AUA Leadership Program under the mentorship of Past President Tony Bueschen in 2013, I served on the QIPS Committee under Dr. Wolf’s leadership and was honored to be appointed QIPS Committee Chair in 2019, serving in that role during Dr. David Penson’s term as S&Q Council Chair. I am personally very grateful to Drs. Wolf and Penson for their mentorship, and we should all be very grateful for their leadership, during which time the Council has positioned the AUA to meet the challenges of the volatile and uncertain environment of health care delivery in the 21st century. These are big shoes to fill!

Thanks to the vision of Drs. Wolf and Penson, and the tremendous contributions of AUA members and staff across the S&Q Committees, we have much to celebrate. The AUA Guidelines are the gold standard in the specialty with unparalleled rigor and reach. Dr. Penson led a refinement of the guidance document types published by the AUA, maintaining the excellence of the Guidelines and adding Clinical Consensus Statements and QI Issue Briefs to better meet the needs of members. The AUA Census provides invaluable and unique insights into urology practice, and AQUA, the AUA’s Qualified Clinical Data Registry, continues to grow, providing a vehicle for quality improvement and participation in federal payment programs, as well as a unique resource for urology research. The QIPS committee convened a Measure Evaluation Panel to support the stewardship and strategic development of urology-specific quality measures in AQUA, and launched Engage with QIPS (E-QIPS), a learning community to support dissemination of best practices and a space for members to share experiences and practical tools to improve patient care.

We are excited to turn the page on the next chapter of the S&Q Council, building on the successes of the past several years and continuing to pursue further alignment to better serve our members, our patients and the specialty. Given the tremendous momentum across Guidelines, the AQUA registry, the Census and activities in QIPS, opportunities for the S&Q Council’s strategic integration to deliver value to our members, our patients and other stakeholders are limitless. I welcome your input and participation, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this new role.

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