Heart Rhythm Society History | Heart Rhythm Society

Heart Rhythm Society History

Learn the history of the Heart Rhythm Society, and the important milestones achieved in the field of electrophysiology.

In 1979, four electrophysiologists recognized the need for a society dedicated to the field cardiac pacing and electrophysiology. Doctors J. Warren Harthorne, Victor Parsonnet, Seymour Furman, and Dryden Morse thus founded the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology, or NASPE, in Boston. In 2004, NASPE celebrated its 25th anniversary, moved to Washington, DC and changes its name to Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) to better reflect its membership constituencies and expanded mission. 

Explore HRS' development through the years

HRS Timeline: year-by-year chronicle of HRS history

1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

  • NASPE founded. Office established at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • 1980 Date of incorporation: February 25, 1980. First National Meeting of NASPE: March 18, Houston, TX.
  • 1981 First issue of NASPENews. Affiliation with Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology (PACE) as official journal. Young Investigators Awards established
  • 1982 First Policy Conference. Position paper written and published in PACE. First Fellowship awarded.
  • 1983 ACCME (Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education) accreditation to provide CME for physicians.
  • 1984 First stand-alone Annual Scientific Sessions. Membership reaches 500. NASPE moves to larger office in Wellesley, MA.
  • 1985 Board of Trustees established. Council of Allied Professionals (CAP) organized. First Annual Scientific Sessions held outside US in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1986 First Examination of Special Competency for Physicians.
  • 1987 NASPE General Endowment Fund founded. Michael Billitch Endowment Fund founded.
  • 1988 First Fellowship Training Program listing published. Health Policy consultant appointed.
  • 1989 Moved to larger offices in Newton, MA. Celebration of 10th birthday of NASPE in Toronto. Membership reaches 1,000. Long Range Plan established. First Examination of Special Competency for Allied Professionals.


  • 1990 Annual Scientific Sessions moves to convention center venue. Audiotapes of Annual Scientific Sessions available. CAP Educational Guidelines published.
  • 1991 NASPE hosts IXth World Symposium in conjunction with Annual Scientific Sessions. 
  • 1992 Washington Report established. Mini-courses added to Annual Scientific Sessions. Board Review Course in Electrophysiology offered.
  • 1993 Annual Fellowship Training Program Directors meeting begins.
  • 1994 Publication of 2nd Edition of CAP Educational Guidelines. Annual Program for Fellows offered. First "Hands-on" Educational Session at Annual Scientific Sessions. NASPE moves to  Natick, MA. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology  (JCE) becomes official journal.
  • 1995 Membership reaches 2,000. NASPE opens satellite office in Washington, DC. NASPE begins joint programming with European Society of Cardiology Working Groups on Arrhythmias and Pacing. NASPE establishes Committee for the Promotion of Basic Science.
  • 1996 First CD-ROM Highlights of the Annual Scientific Sessions. NASPE sponsors Board Review EP Course with ACC co-sponsorship.
  • 1997 Membership reaches 2,500. Industry forum established.
  • 1998 NASPE offers International Luncheon Forums at Annual Scientific Sessions. Primary Care Programming offered.
  • 1999 Celebration of NASPE's 20th birthday in Toronto. Membership reaches 3,000. Public Awareness Campaign is launched. Establishment of a Benevolent Fund.


  • 2000 Live Ablation Case Presentation transmitted via satellite to the Scientific Sessions in Washington.  Awarded Provider status for continuing education in nursing. Working groups established to support the development of patient and medical professional educational material for website.
  • 2001 James Youngblood joins the NASPE team as the Chief Executive Officer. NASPE establishes the Advanced Training Clinical Fellowship Awards.
  • 2002 Strategic Plan and New Mission approved. Formal commencement of "Focus on the Future" campaign. Number of endowment and dedicated funds grows to seven. Membership reaches 3,500.
  • 2003 Standards of professional practice for allied professionals in pacing and electrophysiology published; enhanced patient materials available; kick-off 25th anniversary year; repositioning of NASPE – Heart Rhythm Society; corporate forum held.
  • 2004 NASPE (North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology) celebrates its 25th anniversary and becomes Heart Rhythm Society. Headquarters moves to Washington, DC. Heart Rhythm Foundation is established. New official journal Heart Rhythm is launched.
  • 2005 HRS chairs National ICD Registry Working Group. First ICD Cardiac Resynchronization Devices conference held. Heart Rhythm Foundation Public Awareness Programs on Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Atrial Fibrillation launched in strategic locations. Recognition of the Heart Rhythm Foundation's Donor Levels: Chairman's Society and Founders.
  • 2006 Society releases recommendation on Device Performance Policies and Guidelines. Class of 172 Fellows of Heart Rhythm Society inducted. 27th Annual Scientific Sessions includes simultaneous translation of eight major sessions in Mandarin, Chinese and Japanese. Founding Father and past president of the Society and NASPExAM, Seymour Furman, MD, passed away at the age of 74. NASPExAM offers online preparatory course. Society considered as "major medical group," in national media. Heart Rhythm Foundation successful fundraising campaign includes 116 members of the Founders/Chairman's Society/Ambassadors of the Foundation.
  • 2007 AFib Summit held in conjunction with annual Scientific Sessions. Piloting an AFib CME Outcomes Campaign. Debut of ICD/CRT Resource Content online.  Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) established with the appointment of 16 leading women in EP to the WLI Task Force.  First-ever world-wide live Atrial Fibrillation Webcast broadcast. Launch of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition to raise awareness on Capitol Hill. ICD Registry™ First Quality Outcomes Reports released to 1448 hospitals. Membership tops 4,200. NASPExAM changes its name to IBHRE (International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners).
  • 2008 Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) created online professional development area for female EPs. Two-year research fellowships approved. The Longitudinal ICD Registry study design to evaluate device firing approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Furman Fund created to continue founder Dr. Sy Furman's vision. Revised Heart Rhythm Foundation and mission and Board of Directors established. Society grows to 46 staff members.
  • 2009 Record media coverage of Heart Rhythm 2009. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month Concurrent Resolution passed by Congress. HRS, in partnership with the ACC, created a new coding structure for device monitoring services, including 20 new implantable device codes and three new wearable device codes. The AF Summit was held in conjunction with the Annual Scientific Sessions and featured a program created in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS). Introduction of two Forums: Allied Professionals and Basic Science, which was presented in partnership with the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society (CES). AF Roundtables: Series of five AF Roundtables presented with The George Washington University to targeted physician populations. Rate & Rhythm Pocket Guide based on the ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation distributed. Regional Allied Professional Programs around EP and Device Therapy launched. The Furman Fund, under the auspices of the Heart Rhythm Foundation, supported two travel scholarships to young physicians and scientists interested in electrophysiology to attend the Annual Scientific Sessions.


  • 2010 Collaborated with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA) to execute a one-day SCA symposium and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to hold a SCA Summit. Launch of the 'Apples and Oranges' Campaign for SCA. Allied Professional Regional Programs around EP and Device Therapy launched in five locations. Membership grows at 5 percent rate, exceeds 5,300 members. Launched Rhythms In History Podcasts. Exceeded 50,000 average monthly visitors to www.HRSonline.org. Increased Social Media Presence: Facebook, LinkedIn, EP Insights Blog, Twitter. Media Relations secured more than 2,400 media placements; 40 percent increase. Heart Rhythm Journal: cover and website redesign, increase in page count. The Society influenced CMS to retroactively reverse National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) that prohibited billing the professional component of a 90-day remote monitoring period for a pacemaker or ICD service with the technical component of the service. Created a new coding structure for device monitoring services, including 20 new implantable device codes and 3 new wearable device codes. The International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Furman Fund establishes annual awarding of traveling scholarships.
  • 2010 media coverage resulted in more than 3,000 media placements and nearly 425 million potential readers - a 38 percent increase. New criteria to become a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) were created, tailored to the Society's diverse and international membership. As part of the AF 360° and SCA 360° disease state initiatives, the Society developed and distributed more than 1,200 complimentary resource kits to providers and launched a pilot outreach program. The Hospital Outreach Program aims to increase awareness and dialogue between patients, providers, and the media. AF/SCA Sketcher application for the Apple iPad designed allowing animation of the normal heart as well as AF and SCA disease states for health care professionals. Catheter Ablation Course introduced to step-by-step approaches to diagnose and ablate complex atrial and ventricular arrhythmias.  The International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) developed an EP certification examination for physicians, with an adult and pediatric module; adopted a new Recertification Policy. Heart Rhythm Foundation announces its first Visionary donor.
  • 2011 Publication of the Expert Consensus Statement on the Management of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices (CIEDs) in patients nearing end of life or requesting withdrawal of therapy. Successfully advocated for a unique CMS physician specialty code for cardiac electrophysiology.
  • 2012  Inaugurated a two-year initiative with the National Stroke Association. Launched AfibProfessional.org, a CardioSource Atrial Fibrillation Clinical Community, in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology. Unveiled the Atrial Fibrillation “A-Fib Feels Like” Campaign, including public service announcement (PSA). Distributed nearly 500 Atrial Fibrillation Resource Kits, 200 “AFib Feels Like” PSAs, and 200 Sudden Cardiac Arrest Resource Kits. Expanded the Research Fellowship application process to those conducting reach outside of North America. Established HRS Consulting Services, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary offer consulting services to members and other stakeholders. Created and implemented a new Governance structure under the direction of the Governance Committee. Developed performance measures for heart rhythm care with approval from the American Medical Association. Published four clinical documents: perioperative management of patients with CIEDs, genetic testing, CCEP fellowship update, and relationships with industry. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designated electrophysiology as a unique physician specialty. Provided input to CMS on proposed changes to reimbursement policies and coverage determinations that impact access to life-saving therapies. Increased media coverage resulted in 3,900 media placements and 515 million potential readers –15 percent and 20 percent increases, respectively. Established a members-only Heart Rhythm Advisory Panel to gain perspective and encourage discussion regarding issues and trends in the field of heart rhythm disorders. Adjusted Fellowship criteria (FHRS) to elevate the prominence of the field of electrophysiology. Created the Heart Rhythm Foundation (HRF) Diplomat ($75,000) level of Millennium Society giving, which included 125 pledged donors. Launched the HRF Legacy Gift Planning campaign. Announced a new partnership with the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) and the Chinese Ministry of Health to administer two Chinese language exams: Pacing and Electrophysiology. Offered the IBHRE EP (Adult and Pediatric) examination internationally for the first time. Gained approval of IBHRE’s first annual accreditation surveillance report by The American National Standards Institute.