MMS Website Maintenance

Posted in website on November 17th, 2014 by Rebecca McDade – Be the first to comment

The site is back online. Thank you for your patience.

We are currently working on some upgrades to the Massachusetts Medical Society website. We apologize for the inconvenience and we thank you for your patience as we work to resolve the issue.

Please contact us at with any issues or questions.

NEJM Group Open Forum on I-PASS Now Live

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6th, 2014 by Erica Noonan – Be the first to comment

NEJM Group Open Forum logo
NEJM Group and, a social professional network for physicians, have launched a pilot program called NEJM Group Open Forum, a series of live discussions intended to create active conversations around important trends and new ideas in clinical care and medical practice.  The forum brings together authors, experts in the field, and young physicians to talk about topics that include cutting edge research, certification, and career development.

The first of two ongoing discussions is about the recent NEJM I-PASS study, which found that implementation of an evidence-based bundle of interventions to improve handoffs between providers was associated with a 23% reduction in medical errors and 30% reduction in preventable adverse events. The second begins an NEJM CareerCenter series called Fascinating Physicians, now featuring Sandeep Jauhar, MD., PhD. You may preview the upcoming NEJM Knowledge+ topic, “ABIM Pass Rates: theories Behind the Decline,” and join the conversation on November 13.  Discussions each run for two weeks, and we’ll be adding new ones over the next two months.

The NEJM Group Open Forum is publicly available for all to view, but in order to comment you must register with Medstro and be a physician.


November Physician Focus: Managing Your Chronic Disease

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Primary Care on October 31st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Be the first to comment

Chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes affect about half of all American adults, and their incidence is likely to increase as members of the baby boom generation reach the ages when chronic diseases become more prevalent.

Traditional care for these conditions has centered on the physician’s role, but a new model of care is emerging: that of patient self-management, where patients, in partnership with their physicians, become their own principal caregiver.

The November edition of Physician Focus examines this new model of care with representatives from the Healthy Living Center of Excellence. Robert Schreiber, M.D., (photo, right), Medical Director, and Jennifer Raymond, J.D., M.B.A., (center) Director of Evidence-Based Programs, join host B. Dale Magee, M.D., (left) a past president of MMS, in discussing the purpose, goals, and benefits of these self-management programs and how physicians and patients can participate.

The Healthy Living Center of Excellence is a collaborative effort of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence, Mass. and Hebrew Senior Life in Boston. Through regional-based efforts with community organizations, health care providers, health plans, government, and foundations, the Center offers free programs in community-based settings from seven regional centers throughout Massachusetts that help patients 18 years of age and older with chronic conditions manage their own care.

Results of these programs have shown that patients have better health outcomes, better care experiences, better communication with their providers, and are much more able to manage their conditions.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at,, and on YouTube.

Ebola: New Health Care Worker Guidance on Equipment, Testing, and Personal Protection

Posted in Department of Public Health, Ebola, preparedness on October 21st, 2014 by Erica Noonan – Comments Off

MMS has updated its website with new guidance for health care workers related to Ebola Virus Disease from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola Virus

New guidance from the CDC for Personal Protective Equipment  for health care workers treating Ebola patients:

Both the CDC and MDPH guidance reflect one change to the clinical criteria for a patient under investigation for Ebola Virus Disease having a fever of >100.4 °F. Previous guidance for fever was 101.5°F. (Guidance regarding additional symptoms remains: the patient must also exhibit additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage, AND within the 3 weeks prior to the onset of symptoms, either having contact with the bodily fluids of a patient suspected to have EVD, or having traveled from an EVD-endemic region.)

Links to these resources are available at, which is updated as new information and guidance is released.

– Robyn Alie

New Ebola Advice for Massachusetts Health Providers 

Posted in Ebola, Public Health on October 15th, 2014 by Erica Noonan – 1 Comment

Ebola virusCDC officials reiterated this week that chances are quite slim that a patient infected with the Ebola virus will appear at a U.S. health facility in need of care during a conference call to offer preparedness guidance to hospitals, physicians, and other caregivers.

Although patients who have recently returned from Ebola-stricken areas of west Africa with complaints of fever are more likely to be suffering from malaria or some other illness, “every emergency department should be prepared for this,” said Alexander P. Isakov, MD, MPH, Director, Prehospital and Disaster Medicine at Emory Healthcare.

There have been no diagnosed cases of Ebola in Massachusetts, said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett in a separate call for Massachusetts hospitals on Wednesday, but the reported infections of two Dallas health care workers who cared for an Ebola patient “makes us all anxious,” she said.

The state’s hospitals have been doing well in running drills and implementing proper procedures, she said. “The most important thing we can do is communicate, coordinate our efforts and learn from each other,” Bartlett said.

DPH Medical Director Al DeMaria, MD, said the responsibility for diagnosing and treating Ebola cannot be placed only on large medical centers.  “We have to take care of these patients where they turn up,” he said. The Massachusetts state laboratory is one of 16 labs nationwide equipped to test for Ebola, and results can be obtained in 4-6 hours.

Comprehensive Initial Patient Screening – State and federal officials recommend health providers ask patients who present with possible symptoms of Ebola the following: “In the past three weeks, have you traveled outside the U.S. If so, where?”

If the patient has traveled to a location with an Ebola outbreak, he/she should be moved to a private room, and contact with other patients and staffers limited. Asking about travel history is a useful healthcare routine in general, said Dr. DeMaria “There are lots of diseases where travel can be a component.”

Prepare Your Staff – CDC officials recommend all health care staffers be briefed on proper infection-control procedures, and all facilities designate point persons to handle patients who could be at risk of Ebola. This limits possible protocol breaches, and unnecessary exposure to other staffers and patients.

Obtain Proper Equipment – The CDC recommends all facilities obtain an adequate amount of personal protective gear for staff, and all staff receive training on proper donning and doffing procedures. See CDC links to information on hospital preparedness.

Contact Public Health Officials ­– The DPH said providers with concerns or questions should consult local health authorities, or the DPH directly at its 24/7 Epidemiology Hotline at (617) 983-6800. More DPH Ebola online resources.

Communicate Ahead of Time with Your Vendors – Consider how you would transfer a possibly infectious patient, if needed. Officials recommend providers consider the following questions: Is your ambulance/transport company prepared to handle a patient possibly infected with Ebola?  Are you able to conduct needed procedures safely and do you have a testing company with proper protocols in place?

Is your waste disposal company prepared to dispose of any medical waste related to the patient’s visit? These are questions that should be answered “before the first patient comes through the door” said Bruce S. Ribner, MD, MPH, Director, Emory’s Serious Communicable Disease Unit.

 — Erica Noonan


The ACA Really Does Matter This Election Season: Blendon

Posted in Affordable Care Act, Health Policy, Health Reform, State of the State: 2014 on October 8th, 2014 by MMS – Comments Off


The Affordable Care Act is still a major election issue this year, particularly in states whose voters will ultimately decide who controls the next U.S. Senate, according to a leading health policy analyst from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Robert Blendon, ScD., speaking at the MMS” annual State of the State of State’s Healthcare conference, said anti-ACA messaging and advertising is very heavy in the 14 competitive state races, and most of those states tend to be conservative, Republican, or both.

After the ACA: Some Successes, and Lots More Work to Do

Posted in Accountable Care Organizations, Affordable Care Act, Health Policy, Health Reform, State of the State: 2014 on October 8th, 2014 by MMS – Comments Off


David Blumenthal, MD, president of The Commonwealth Fund, told attendees of the MMS State of the State conference yesterday that while federal health reform has fostered many important improvements in our health care system, there are still big gaps in access to care, affordability, and health status.

Dr. Blumenthal said the U.S. is still “Two Americas,” where on the most metrics, the northern half of the country is generally much better off than the southern half. For example, he asserted that middle income people in the South are in no better a situation than low-income people in the Northeast.

However, the Affordable Care Act has been the primary reason for “historic” improvements on several fronts. In the attached video clip, he outlines some of those changes. Then he reviews the experience so far in Massachusetts.

Transforming Health: The Need for an Innovation Ecosystem

Posted in Accountable Care Organizations, Health Policy, Health Reform, State of the State: 2014 on October 7th, 2014 by MMS – Comments Off


How do you transform the health care system in mid-flight?

Victor J. Dzau, MD, recently named president of the Institute of Medicine, argues that health care organizations have the ability to create an ecosystem that encourages the creation of ideas, nurtures them through experimentation, and then disseminates them to the rest of the health care system – up to and include commercialization.

His video clip begins with the wry observation that “innovation was not invented in the United States,” and can arise from anywhere.

His comments today were part of the 15th annual MMS  State of the State of Healthcare Leadership Forum.

Cleveland Clinic’s Lessons for Health Care Transformation

Posted in Accountable Care Organizations, Affordable Care Act, Health Policy, Health Reform, State of the State: 2014 on October 7th, 2014 by MMS – Comments Off


The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic provided a persuasive and moving case study today of how a health care organization can tackle the transformation of health care.

Delos M. Cosgrove, MD, said the Cleveland Clinic has made significant improvements in the areas of affordability, access and quality.

But he noted that none of these are important if a fourth critical item is missing: empathy.

Dr. Cosgrove’s presentation was part of the MMS’ 15th annual State of the State’s Healthcare Leadership Forum.

View video clips from the conference’s other presentations.

Mass. Health Care Costs: Evidence, Testimony, and Scrutiny

Posted in Global Payments, Health Policy, Health Reform, Payment Reform, Payment Reform Commission on October 6th, 2014 by MMS Communications – 1 Comment

“We’re not interested in just saving money, we’re also concerned aboutMassachusetts State House quality and access, but we need to do it in a way that we have the capacity to afford it,” said Stuart Altman, chairman of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, as he opened two days of hearings on health care cost trends in Massachusetts at Suffolk University Law School this morning.

Billed as an “opportunity to present evidence and testimony to hold the entire health care system accountable,” the Annual Health Care Cost Trends Hearing represents the first review of the state’s performance under the health care costs growth benchmark established in Chapter 224 in 2012. Over two days, the Commission is examining cost trends for public and commercial payers as well as hospitals and other providers.

Along with health care policy experts making detailed presentations, nearly 30 individuals – a list that reads like a “Who’s Who” of Massachusetts health care – are providing testimony on such topics as meeting the health care cost benchmark, transforming the payment system, coordinating behavioral health and post-acute care, and insurance market trends and provider market trends in promoting value-based health care.

The mood among the HPC commissioners and morning’s presenters as the session began was generally upbeat, as the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) last month released the first report on the Commonwealth’s performance. With the health care cost growth benchmark set at 3.6 percent, CHIA found that total health care expenditures increased by 2.3 percent , 1.3 percent below the benchmark. Total expenditures reach $50 billion statewide.

Governor Deval Patrick, one of the first to speak and declaring that “health is a public good,” said that “by any measure, Massachusetts health care reform is a success,” at the same time cautioning that even after eight years of health reform “there’s plenty of room to innovate” and “constant refinement” will be needed. Patrick added that challenges remain, chief among them the delivery of primary care.

Jeffery Sanchez, Chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, the second public official to speak, was also upbeat but cautious as well. “Let us continue to show the nation we continue to be a leader,” he said, at the same time expressing concern about behavioral health, alternative payment systems, and reaching underserved populations. He noted that minorities have difficulty navigating the health care system, and that it is imperative to “make sure the health care system is accessible and effective for all.”

Morning presentations included those from David Seltz, executive director of the Health Policy Commission; Aron Boros, executive director of CHIA, and Michael E. Chernew, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. Other expert speakers scheduled include Alan Weil, J.D., Editor-in-Chief, Health Affairs, and Thomas Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Press Ganey Associates.

The hearing concluded at the end of the day on Tuesday. Written testimony, agency reports, and expert presentations are available on the HPC’s website at Live streaming of the hearing is also available from the website.

News coverage of hearings:

Health care stakeholders size up cost-control bid
State House News Service via Worcester Business Journal, October 7, 2014