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A Culture of Collaboration

As a practicing dermatologist who is currently attending law school, I’m gaining valuable knowledge of the legal profession on top of my 20 years practicing medicine.

And while attending law school at age 47 isn’t for everyone, it’s important that education be a pillar of our advocacy in these complicated and ever-changing times for physicians in the U.S. health system.

A team-based approach is increasingly used as a key phrase to describe what is needed in today’s healthcare system whether it’s government and public health professionals tackling the first U.S. outbreak of the Zika virus or a physician helping a patient navigate their choices after they gain health insurance for the first time under the Affordable Care Act.

Only by joining together with a diverse group of stakeholders can physicians improve the healthcare system working with our patients and their insurers as well as our lawmakers, regulators and fellow medical providers.

Key to collaboration is communication and we’re making strides to bring CMS into the digital age. We are using more social media and repurposing print content from Chicago Medicine magazine into mobile messages online and via our App to reach more members more quickly.

We want to widen our circle in a positive way to increase physician involvement while at the same time helping communicate important messages from our health plan, hospital and legislative partners to name a few.

The Medical Society been successful when we collaborate and educate. Here are some past examples we will build upon:

We proposed comprehensive network standards for all Illinois health plans, which helped lead to House Bill 6562, the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act. This legislation will help us work with health insurers as they increasingly shift from fee-for-service medicine and reimbursements based on volume to value-based and alternative payment models like narrow- and high performance networks based on health outcomes.

We worked with the state’s largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, after mounting medical claims from newly insured patients forced the company to withdraw from the ACA’s public exchange. Physicians were needed to help vulnerable patients bridge a communications gap, making sure those with a pent up demand for medical treatment could find new coverage and maintain access to providers without harming their care.

We worked with our U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois on opioid legislation to help improve physician education for those historically high prescribers of such pain medications. Physicians support Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and continued work for safe pain management strategies that will help patients and communicate the latest information to doctors.

As we recalibrate our approach, our policies must position us to work across boundaries, bringing a collaborative mindset to the problems we face. No single group or industry has all the solutions. There’s too much at stake with rising healthcare costs and doctors facing more value-based initiatives and quality measurements like the roll out in the next three years of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 known as “MACRA.”

We want a seat at the table for all of these important issues and collaboration is the way to get there.

I look forward in the coming year to working with members of the Chicago Medical Society and asking for all CMS members to join with me in collaborating with the larger healthcare community to work together toward achieving the goal of overcoming the numerous obstacles before us.

Clarence W. Brown, Jr., MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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