Physician Focus

October Physician Focus: Telemedicine

Posted in behavioral health, Health, Health IT, Physician Focus, Primary Care on September 30th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on October Physician Focus: Telemedicine

Technology has been rapidly changing the practice of medicine, and one of the fastest growing areas is telemedicine, using such means as video platforms, text messaging, patient portals, and health “apps” that permit communication between physician and patient.

From left: Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Adam Licurse, Dr. Steven Locke

From left: Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Adam Licurse, Dr. Steven Locke.

The October edition of Physician Focus takes a look at this emerging area of medicine with Adam Licurse, M.D., a primary care physician and Associate Medical Director of Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization and Partners Population Health Management, and psychiatrist Steven Locke, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of iHope Network and member of the MMS Committee on Information Technology.  Hosting this edition is Dale Magee, M.D., a past president of MMS.

The discussion examines the impact of telemedicine on physicians and patients, its advantages and shortcomings, how the field of mental health has acted as a pioneer in the field, how it can help to ease the stigma that prevent patients from getting care, and the concerns clinicians still have with the application of telemedicine in patient care.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and on YouTube.

September Physician Focus: The Misconceptions of Obesity

Posted in Physician Focus, Public Health on September 1st, 2016 by MMS Communications – 2 Comments

Despite enormous attention and multiple programs created to reduce the condition, obesity remains prevalent in the U.S. with more than a third of the population considered obese.  Conventional wisdom has thought of obesity as primarily a lifestyle issue, with people eating too much and not getting enough physical exercise.  New research, however, is discovering that obesity is much more complex than first thought.

From left: Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Scott Butsch, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford

From left: Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Scott Butsch, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford

The September edition of Physician Focus examines the many other factors contributing to obesity and overweight with two physicians from the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center, Scott W. Butsch, M.D. and Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., both members of the Society’s Committee on Nutrition and Physical Activity.  Hosting this edition is MMS Past President Dale Magee, M.D.

Among the topics of conversation are the importance of changing one’s diet to healthier foods, the role of the body’s fat cells in obesity; how ‘gut bacteria’ affects weight; and how such factors as sleep, stress, and medications can contribute to obesity.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and on YouTube.

August Physician Focus: Electronic Medical Records 

Posted in Physician Focus on July 29th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on August Physician Focus: Electronic Medical Records 

The introduction of electronic medical records has been one of the most rapid and widespread advances of technology in medicine affecting physicians of all specialties. More than 90 percent of Massachusetts physicians now use some form of EMR. While they offer great promise in improving patient care, EMRs have also presented physicians with great challenges, affecting clinical efficiency, workflow, interaction with patients, and reporting requirements.  Patients as well have expressed concerns about physician attention during the office visit and patient privacy and confidentiality.

From left, Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Glenn Tucker, Dr. Joseph Heyman

From left, Dr. Dale Magee, Dr. Glenn Tucker, Dr. Joseph Heyman

The August edition of Physician Focus examines the pros and cons of electronic medical records with two members of the medical society’s Committee on Information Technology (CIT).

Guests are Glenn Tucker, M.D., Chair of CIT and Chief of Internal Medicine and Chief Medical Information Officer at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, and Joseph Heyman, M.D., Chief Medical Information Officer of Wellport Health Information Exchange in Newburyport, CIT member, former president of MMS and former chairman of the Board of the American Medical Association. Hosting this edition is Dale Magee, M.D., a past president of MMS.

The physicians discuss a number of issues, including the transition from paper to digital, the advantages and disadvantages of digital records, how EMRs can affect workflow in a physician’s office, the differences among systems, and how EMRs can benefit patients.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

July Physician Focus: Men’s Health

Posted in Physician Focus, Primary Care on July 1st, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on July Physician Focus: Men’s Health

Studies and statistics confirm that when it comes to individual health, men fare far worse than women. Heart disease, substance abuse, injury and death from accidents all affect men far more than women.

Dr. Karlin (l) Dr. Schwartz (r) blog

“Men have really not taken good care of themselves,” says primary care physician Frederic Schwartz, M.D., co-chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Men’s Health Committee. “There seems to be this ‘macho’ attitude where men feel that to access health care is not part of their creed. They delay care, they’re in denial, until it is too late.”

The differences between the sexes are large not only in visiting a physician, but also in listening to medical guidance, Dr. Schwartz says.  Women seem much more inclined in following through on the recommendations that physicians promote to maintain health.

Dr. Schwartz (photo, seated), an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, offers his perspectives on men and health in the July episode of Physician Focus with program host Bruce Karlin, M.D., (standing) a primary care physician in Worcester.

The physicians discuss the reasons why men fall short on taking care of themselves and what they can and should do about improving their care.  Among other topics of conversation are prostate cancer, concern over the commonly prescribed Prostate Specific Antigen test; and how “low T” (low testosterone) and erectile dysfunction affect men’s health.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and on YouTube.

June Physician Focus: Infectious Disease: Fear vs. Evidence

Posted in Ebola, Flu, H1N1, Physician Focus, Public Health on June 10th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on June Physician Focus: Infectious Disease: Fear vs. Evidence

The outbreak of an infectious disease is one of medicine’s most difficult challenges.  At the same time that public health agencies must contain the infection, they must also try to quell the public’s fears – a difficult task in today’s world of instant communication, multiple media channels, and constant media attention.  The experiences of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003, H1N1 Bird Flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2014, and now the Zika virus in 2016, are the most recent examples of threats targeting the public health.

June Physician Focus features Dr. Steven Hatch (r), with host Dr. Bruce Karlin

June Physician Focus features Dr. Steven Hatch (r), with host Dr. Bruce Karlin

The June edition of Physician Focus provides some perspective on the topic of media and public reaction to outbreaks of infectious disease through the experiences of Steven C. Hatch, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease at UMass Medical School in Worcester. Hosting this edition is Bruce Karlin, M.D., a primary care physician in Worcester.

In 2014, Dr. Hatch spent five weeks in Liberia with the International Medical Corps treating patients stricken with Ebola and subsequently returned to that country several times to treat patients. Among the topics of conversation are what public health agencies must consider in reacting to infectious disease outbreaks, comments on how the media covered the Ebola outbreak in the U.S., and Dr. Hatch’s perspective on the latest outbreak of Zika.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org/disease2016, and on YouTube.

 

May Physician Focus: Colorectal Cancer

Posted in Physician Focus on May 12th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on May Physician Focus: Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women in the U.S., Colorectal Cancerclaiming more than 50,000 lives each year.  The American Cancer Society estimates that 134,000 cases of the disease are diagnosed every year.

Screening for the disease saves lives, but 23 million American adults – about one in three – do not get screened as recommended.

To raise awareness about the condition and the importance of screening, the May edition of Physician Focus features two physicians from the Massachusetts Gastroenterology Association.  Guests are Francis MacMillan Jr., M.D. (photo, center) president of the Association and owner and president of Merrimack Valley Gastroenterology in Haverhill, and Raj Devarajan, M.D., (right) president of Middlesex Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center in Acton, a board member of the Association, and President of the Medical Staff at Emerson Hospital in Concord.  Hosting this edition is primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. (left)

The physicians discuss the prevalence of colorectal cancer, the suspected causes of the disease, why so many adults don’t get screened, screening guidelines set by the medical groups, the various screening tests available, and the importance of a colonoscopy as a procedure to prevent cancer.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts and online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and YouTube.

The President’s Podium:  Education Is Key to Opioid Battle       

Posted in Drug Abuse, opioids, Physician Focus, Public Health on April 14th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on The President’s Podium:  Education Is Key to Opioid Battle       

by Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D., President, Massachusetts Medical Society

Multiple efforts have been taken by many people all over the Commonwealth during the last year to curtail the state’s opioid epidemic.  We’ve seen Dr.DimitriMMS (4)Governor Charlie Baker’s Opioid Working Group present 65 recommendations to attack the crisis,  law enforcement officials offer treatment instead of arrest, Department of Public Health work on improving the Prescription Monitoring Program, and the deans of the state’s four medical schools establish core competencies in opioids and pain management for medical students.

Our own medical society has been at the forefront of addressing the crisis, with prescribing guidelines, free pain management CME’s to all prescribers, public service campaigns for patients, and collaboration with state and public health officials on a variety of initiatives.

Our latest effort is yet another cooperative endeavor with the Department of Public Health. I am privileged to appear as a guest with Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, on Crisis in the Commonwealth: Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse, the most recent edition of our monthly patient education television series, Physician Focus, produced in cooperation with HCAM-TV in Hopkinton.

Hosted by Lynda Young, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at UMass Medical School and a past president of MMS, the show is intended to educate citizens across the Commonwealth, providing perspectives about many aspects of the opioid crisis: the origins of the epidemic, the impact on patients and families; the roles of prescriber and patient; actions taken by medical, state, and public health agencies; and the provisions of the new state law recently signed by Governor Baker to address the epidemic.

The half-hour program is being distributed to public access television stations across the state, within reach of citizens in some 275 communities, and it is also being posted online at several sites. The video also includes a public service announcement and a listing of local and national resources about substance abuse, opioids and pain medicines, and prevention and treatment options.

While the efforts of many have led to some progress over the last year, the opioid epidemic is a difficult one to attack, as evidenced by recent headlines: Middlesex County saw 20 deaths from overdoses in just three weeks, and an analysis by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission revealed that opioid-related visits to hospitals nearly doubled from 2007 to 2014, reaching 57,000 in 2014.

The opioid crisis has been the Medical Society’s number one priority for the last year, and it will remain at the top of the list.  The video produced with the Department of Public Health is another initiative by physicians and targets what we believe to be one of the keys to success:  education for both patients and prescribers, current and future. As Dr. Bharel states early in the video discussion, “It’s so important that we talk about this and make sure we’re educated and understand the scope of the problem.”

The President’s Podium appears periodically on the MMS Blog, offering Dr. Dimitri’s commentary on a range of issues in health and medicine.

 

April Physician Focus: The Opioid Crisis

Posted in Department of Public Health, Drug Abuse, opioids, Physician Focus, Public Health on April 14th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on April Physician Focus: The Opioid Crisis

The Massachusetts Medical Society, in cooperation with the Department of Public Health, has taken another step in its efforts to address the publicOpioids_edited health crisis of opioid and prescription drug abuse affecting residents of the Commonwealth.

The April edition of Physician Focus, Crisis in the Commonwealth: Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse, examines multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic with MMS President Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D. (photo, center) and DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H., (right), two physicians who have been at the forefront of addressing the problem over the last year.

Hosted by Lynda Young, M.D., (left) Professor of Pediatrics at UMass Medical School and a past president of MMS, the program represents another initiative by the physician community and seeks to educate prescribers, patients, and citizens about the crisis and what steps they can take to help to curtail the abuse.

Among the topics of conversation are the origins of the opioid crisis; the roles of prescribers and patients; actions taken by medical, state, and public health agencies to reduce the abuse; and the provisions of a new state law created specifically to fight the epidemic.  The video also contains a public service announcement recorded by the guests and a list of local and national resources about substance abuse, opioids and pain medicines, and prevention and treatment options.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org/opioids, and on YouTube.

February Physician Focus: Concussions

Posted in Physician Focus, Public Health on February 24th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on February Physician Focus: Concussions

The severity and potential of long-term health effects of concussions are now recognized at all levels of sports, from the professional ranks to youth leagues.

To add to the public awareness of this injury, the February episode of Physician Focus features Dr. Ann McKee (photo, seated), Chief of Neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Professor of Neurology and Pathology and Director of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, and one of the nation’s foremost experts on the effects of concussion and head trauma. Hosting this edition is Dale Magee, M.D. (photo, standing), a past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

While acknowledging the multiple benefits that young people gain by participating in sports, Dr. McKee offers valuable, basic information on what she characterizes as an “invisible injury,” one that carries no recognizable signs of harm such as bleeding or pain.

The conversation includes information on many aspects of the injury: its symptoms, difficulty of diagnosis, what to do with a player when a concussion is suspected, gender differences in susceptibility to the injury, as well as the dangers of second and multiple concussions, “sub-concussive” impacts to the head, and the development of “skill sets” by athletes to reduce the risk of concussion in sports.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts and online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and YouTube.

January Physician Focus: Mindfulness

Posted in behavioral health, Health, mental health, Physician Focus on January 15th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on January Physician Focus: Mindfulness

The stresses of daily life – financial pressures, family demands, professional or occupational stress – can Mindfulness1produce fatigue, sleeplessness, and other physical conditions that can harm our mental and physical health.

Mindfulness is an emerging approach that can help patients deal with these concerns by helping them participate in their own health care. Proponents of mindfulness say the practice can reduce stress, improve health, help to manage chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes, and even be useful in treating addiction, substance abuse, and even pain. An approach that came into practice more than 30 years ago, mindfulness is now reaching mainstream medicine, considered to be a way to complement and enhance individual health for people of any age.

The January edition of Physician Focus provides an introduction to mindfulness — how it is practiced, whom it can help, and how it can improve our mental and physical health and overall well-being. Guests are Michael Guidi, D.O. and Jefferson Prince, M.D.

Dr. Guidi (right, photo), is a family physician in Haverhill and Chair of the MMS Committee on Student Health and Sports Medicine. He is engaged in efforts to reduce youth substance abuse by introducing mindfulness to students, parents, and teachers. Dr. Prince (center, photo) is Director of Child Psychiatry and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at MassGeneral for Children at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Mass. and is an instructor in the Medical Center’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Hosting this edition is primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. (photo, left).

Physician Focus, now in its 11th consecutive year of production, is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on YouTube.