At MMS Interim Meeting, Leaders Urge Physician Leadership in New Era of Health Care

To open the 2014 MMS Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates, President Richard Pieters, M.D, recounted the changes and challenges in health care in the second year of  the Commonwealth’s health care cost control system.

The 2.3 percent rise in health care spending in the first year of the system — well below the state’s target of 3.6 percent — is “evidence that the entire health care community took the challenge of affordability very seriously,” said Dr. Pieters at the meeting’s opening session Friday morning.

Yet Dr. Pieters cautioned colleagues that the changes involve more than just cost control.  “This new era of health care,” he said, “is transforming almost everything we do.”

He cited significant changes in the state’s health care system, such as the emergence of new payments models, with new technologies being developed to support them; the continued consolidation of hospitals and physician practices, including more physicians moving from independent practice to employed status; and changes in prescription drug use, as successful new medicines are coming under intense scrutiny because of soaring costs.

The Society’s activity has also changed, he said, as advocacy has shifted from legislative to regulatory efforts. He called attention to the Society’s successful efforts over two years to ensure that the state’s mandate on physician proficiency with electronic health records was implemented with care and without disruption to physician practices and patient care, and he cited efforts in working with health officials in enhancing the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program in the face of a rising drug epidemic and without creating barriers to care.

Dr. Pieters also spoke of the Society’s new strategic direction regarding the advent of team-based health care, noting the formation of a Task Force on Interprofessional Care, led by Past President Ronald W. Dunlap, M.D., that will include representatives from other professions on the team and the preparation of legislation to “ensure that physicians are in the leadership positions of these teams.

“Physicians have the broadest and deepest training of anyone on the team, and the buck stops with us,” said Dr. Pieters.

Finally, Dr. Pieters acknowledged the Society’s efforts in assisting physicians in practice management, continuing medical education, membership development, and a renewed effort to engage young physicians.

“We must prove our value to our colleagues and our external stakeholders each and every day,” Dr. Pieters said, “because that what they have to do in their world, too. It’s a challenging world, but the MMS is in the right place at the right time to make a difference. ”

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