Do Accountable Care Organizations Have Staying Power?

Posted in Accountable Care Organizations, CME on August 4th, 2011 by MMS – Comments Off on Do Accountable Care Organizations Have Staying Power?

Recently, some physicians and health care administrators have expressed doubts about the viability of accountable care organizations (ACOs). Does this viewpoint stand up to scrutiny?

If you’re talking about the Medicare ACO program, as proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this past spring, the naysayers probably have a point. The proposed regulations attracted lots of scrutiny, criticism and recommendations for improvement from entities including the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, industry thought leaders, physicians, administrators, and politicians.

By definition, an accountable care organization is an group of health care providers that agree to be accountable for the quality, cost, and overall care of assigned beneficiaries. Under this definition, there are already many entities in existence within Massachusetts and across the country that are already operating successfully as ACOs. Many organizations, physician groups and physicians are participating in enhanced risk based contracts with payers. In some cases, these groups have already improved their quality and financial results based on measured success in the area of cost and quality metrics.

These developments, combined with the CMS’ continued efforts to promote innovation through the Pioneer Program, provide evidence that the concept of integrated delivery organizations, like ACOs, are here to stay.

To learn more about ACOs, Accountable Care Delivery models and the things your practice can do to prepare join us on September 13 for our fall program A Path to Accountable Care Organizations: How Do We Get There From Here? Visit for more information.

— By Kerry Ann Hayon
Manager, MMS Physician Practice Resource Center

Has the “Art of Medicine” Gone by the Wayside?

Posted in CME on April 4th, 2011 by MMS – Comments Off on Has the “Art of Medicine” Gone by the Wayside?

Numerous studies and surveys conducted throughout the past 10 years have determined that physician burnout is high, and physician morale is low.  This conundrum creeps into the daily practice of medicine and ultimately into patient/physician relationships and physician/physician communication.

Has the “art of medicine” gone by the wayside?

All physicians are artists in their own right.  They are listeners, communicators, creators and craftsmen.  They conduct a triage team as skillfully as a maestro conducts a philharmonic orchestra.  They are teachers, note-takers, life-long learners, and psycho/social interpreters. Their mastery of the ‘art’ of medicine is applied to a patient’s life over the span from birth to death.  From time to time, even these compassionate humans need to reflect, renew and rekindle their art…their passion for medicine.

Join your colleagues on Saturday, April 9, 2011 for a Symposium on Medicine and the Arts – Cultivating Humanism

The Massachusetts Medical Society and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation are jointly sponsoring a hands-on, innovative CME event at the Arthur M. Sackler museum in Cambridge, MA.  Opening this day-long event will be a dramatic reading from scenes from Sophocles’ Piloctetes and Women of Trachis that will serve as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the challenges faced by medical professionals and caregivers who work in the fields of palliative care and hospice.  Concurrent workshops conducted in museum galleries and classroom settings will follow.  They will address:

  • Grief and Loss through Art
  • Portraiture: What Can You Tell from a Face?
  • Making Metaphors: Modern Art and Medicine
  • Building Observations Skills: Using Visual Thinking Strategies in Medical Education
  • Personal Connections and Professional Reflections through Art
  • Narrative Medicine: What is It and How Can It Improve Patient Care?
  • Film: Reflections on Illness

A poetry reading and dialogue will address expressive arts therapies.  The Longwood Symphony Orchestra will present case studies of two renowned patients/composers; discuss the neurobiology of musicality, the illness impact on artistry and draw parallels to musicians as physicians.  The day will culminate with a reflective session addressing how to integrate the arts into patient care.

For more information and to register for this event, visit

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

If Your Patient Was Abusing Drugs, Would You Know?

Posted in CME, Drug Abuse on March 18th, 2011 by MMS – Comments Off on If Your Patient Was Abusing Drugs, Would You Know?

In 2009, nearly 22 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users. This included seven million people who used a prescription drug non-medically. Yet many physicians fail to regularly ask patients about their drug use.

Why should physicians and other health care providers regularly screen their patients for substance abuse?

More than 38,000 people died of drug-induced causes in 2007, the latest year for which data are available. In 2009, 20.9 million persons who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem but did not receive treatment at a specialty substance abuse facility in the past year.  Physicians can be the front line of reducing these preventable deaths and addressing substance use and addiction. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on the brain and behavior and to regain control of their lives.

How does substance abuse impact a patient’s medical care?

By knowing a patient’s prior or current substance abuse problem, a physician can enhance medical care. As many as 6 in 10 people with an illicit substance use disorder also suffer from another mental illness. For these individuals, one condition becomes more difficult to treat successfully as an additional condition is intertwined. Research indicates that treating both (or multiple) illnesses simultaneously in an integrated fashion is generally the best treatment approach for these patients. If health care providers do not ask their patients about drug use, they may not adequately treat the patient’s symptoms.

Why don’t physicians ask all their patients about their drug use?

Some physicians express pessimism about recovery rates and feel that nothing can be done. Yet relapse rates for drug abuse are similar to those for other chronic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. Relapse is common and similar across these illnesses (as is adherence to medication). Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully.

Coming Monday, March 28: The Addiction Performance Project

The Massachusetts Medical Society and the National Institute on Drug Abuse are joint sponsoring an innovative CME activity on this issue in Boston. This activity begins with professional actors performing a dramatic reading of Act III of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. This semi-autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of the Tyrone family’s struggle with alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.

Immediately following, members of a multidisciplinary panel respond to the performance by sharing personal or professional experiences with substance abuse and addiction, and their knowledge of caring for addicted patients. In the final segment, an expert facilitator uses the play’s key themes and issues as a catalyst to guide an audience discussion.

For more information and to register for this free event, visit

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.