The American Limb Preservation Society (ALPS) has formed a new strategic partnership with the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Leaders from both organizations praise the alliance as a springboard to fostering more interdisciplinary teamwork in the treatment of high-risk patients with diabetes and elevating public awareness of podiatry intervention in preventing amputations.
Emphasizing that APMA advances and advocates for podiatrists as well as the patients they serve, James Christina, DPM, says ensuring the highest level of lower-extremity care for vulnerable populations is a key uniting driver for APMA and ALPS.
“We strive to ensure that those at risk for amputations are protected and have access to the best care possible to avoid amputations,” notes Dr. Christina, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of APMA. “ALPS’ goal of acting as a bridge between patients and providers is consistent with making sure patients have access to podiatric physicians to receive the best possible care.”
Laura Shin, DPM, PhD, envisions the APMA/ALPS alliance giving greater exposure to the role of podiatrists on the limb salvage team to other surgical specialties.
“This is an opportunity to bring like-minded individuals who are committed to improving the lives of these patients through amputation prevention together and create and foster team-based therapies,” explains Dr. Shin, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. “We hope that by aligning APMA with ALPS, we are encouraging the different surgical specialties to get out of their silos, work together and find new opportunities to improve patient care.”
“If you think of APMA and the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) as potential therapeutic spouses, ALPS is something of an e-Harmony or possibly a marriage counselor,” adds David G. Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD, the President of ALPS. “Our goal— our reason for existing— is to build interdisciplinary relationships between clinicians to help eliminate preventable amputations over the next generation.”
To that end, Dr. Armstrong foresees the emergence of online tools to facilitate clinical networking between potential members of interdisciplinary teams.
“I could see development of a ‘dating app’ to identify collaborative podiatric and vascular surgeons and others interested in limb preservation to clinically hook up (if you will) regionally,” posits Dr. Armstrong, the Director of the Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA). “I could see visiting clinician programs (like we’ve already started with the ALPS Traveling Fellowship) having podiatric and vascular surgeons visit existing centers of excellence to copy, improve and pay it forward.”
In terms of future collaborations, Dr. Armstrong says he could see APMA leaders in limb salvage lecturing at the Vascular Annual Meeting of the SVS and top vascular surgeons providing sessions at the APMA Annual Scientific Meeting.
Dr. Christina says APMA and ALPS could also partner to advance mutual public education goals when appropriate.
“Our annual Diabetes Awareness Month campaign would be an outstanding opportunity to engage the public in better understanding diabetes and its complications in the feet, as well as how to prevent those complications and avoid amputations,” suggests Dr. Christina.
Dr. Shin agrees that the alliance between APMA and ALPS can go a long way in educating the public about risk factors that contribute to potential amputation cases.
“We would be able to reach a wider audience and patient population by improving awareness about the risks associated with limb loss and amputations,” notes Dr. Shin, the ALPS liaison to the APMA. “We can discuss how each surgical specialty contributes and how it can not only improve outcomes for the patient, but also be beneficial to hospital and clinic-based practices.”
Promoting interdisciplinary teams and increasing recognition of the role of podiatric care within those limb salvage teams are mutual goals for both organizations.
“I think educating other surgical specialties about the podiatric training and the improved outcomes of the team-based approach will bolster these relationships,” maintains Dr. Shin. “ALPS can provide a networking system to link different clinicians together by geography and create guidelines of how these teams work in areas where this collaboration already exists. Not only can we provide resources to create these teams, but we can also provide education and resources to allow these partnerships to form.”
“As podiatrists, we always try to emphasize the team approach to preventing amputation in high-risk patients,” says Dr. Christina. “All specialties that provide care for high-risk patients should be knowledgeable about each team member’s role and make sure that high-risk patients see all the team members who can contribute to their overall care, and thereby help prevent amputations.”