Media Reports Highlight the Need for Physician-Led Health Care

A great deal of national media attention has been focused in the past few days on allegations that some physicians are being pressured, particularly emergency room doctors, to make medical decisions that are financially beneficial to the hospital but may not be necessary for the care of the patient.

A report in the New York Times (Nov. 30, 2012) and a segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” (Dec. 2, 2012) looked at allegations by physicians who had practiced at a variety of hospitals in the United States, including Carlisle Regional Medical Center, a hospital owned by Health Management Associates.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is not in the position to comment on the validity of these reports.

However, PAMED has issued a public statement emphasizing that “the best medical decisions are made when physicians, leading a team of health care providers, work closely with their patients without the presence of financial pressures.”

We also noted that, “While health system reform seeks to expand access and increase quality –both desperately needed but also costly – physicians could face steep Medicare cuts on Jan. 1, 2013, due in part to the ‘fiscal cliff’ sequestration reductions.”

PAMED’s strategic vision is that physicians need to lead and shape health care delivery to assure that the evolving system provides quality and value to patients and the community. The response to this strategic vision has been overwhelmingly positive from all corners of the health care community.

To make this vision a reality, we are working closely with CEOs of large physician groups, deans of Pennsylvania’s medical schools, and, of course, physicians from the full range of specialties and types of medical practices.

As our country works its way through health care reform, we have the perfect opportunity to build a better health care system. The foundation for this system is patient care delivered by the physician-led health care team.

PAMED is reaching toward this goal with:

  • Our  Leadership Skills Academy that includes webinars, conferences, and other educational resources in collaboration with the American College of Healthcare Executives.
  • An advisory panel of medical practice chief executive officers. The panel is working on several projects to improve patient care including streamlining credentialing, standardizing insurers’ quality measures, and improving access to primary care.
  • An Academic Affairs Council consisting of the deans of Pennsylvania’s medical schools.
  • Collaborative meetings between independent practice physicians and large group administrators to work on solving health care delivery issues.
  • A task force to work on how hospital medical staffs should be constructed and governed in the evolving health care system. This will have important ramifications on physician autonomy.
  • Efforts to develop health information infrastructures, recognizing the importance of data in the improvement of health care quality. For example, PAMED has been a key player with the Pennsylvania eHealth Initiative.