Address of the Executive Vice President
Nov. 6, 2010
AMA Interim Meeting
San Diego, California
Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA
Executive Vice President and CEO
American Medical Association
Good afternoon and welcome to San Diego.
Five months ago when I spoke at our annual meeting, I said that while all of you are out in the field caring for patients, my job is to care for the interests of the AMA.
In fact, as your executive vice president I have often thought of myself as the AMA’s physician. And I’m not just referring to my M.D.
I am referring to the responsibility I have had to keep a finger on the pulse of your needs. To check vital signs, understand concerns, and respond with meaningful solutions that promote the health of this association and its members.
Over the past five months the “pulse” of AMA membership has been – shall we say – a bit elevated.
I’ve heard your concerns. I’ve heard your frustration over Congress’ failure to repeal the SGR. Your need to stay abreast of the latest HSR developments. Your desire to take advantage of any opportunities the new law affords, and to avoid potential pitfalls.
I’ve also heard your concerns beyond HSR – issues you continue to encounter in your day-to-day practice.
Above all, I’ve heard a need for communication. You want to be involved.
Not only to receive meaningful communication when and where you need it, but also have the opportunity to participate and voice your opinions.
Like any good doctor I have not only listened to your concerns, but focused on solutions. I’d like to take a few minutes to describe just some of the many ways the AMA has responded to your needs.
First, Medicare reform. As Dr. Wilson said, the AMA is aggressively pursuing a permanent solution that includes repeal of SGR.
But in the meantime, we recognized that physicians don’t have the luxury to wait. So we created a Medicare Options Toolkit to help you with your decision.
If you have not done so already, I encourage you to visit our website and take advantage of this kit. With 25 percent cuts looming on the horizon, every physician in the country needs to weigh their Medicare options carefully.
Another top concern right now is health information technology. As you know, the federal government is currently offering incentives to doctors who successfully integrate ePrescribing and electronic health records into their practices.
But down the road, the new law calls for those incentives to be replaced by penalties for physicians who fail to comply.
The bottom line is – the time to implement Health IT is now. Again, the AMA has developed resources to help you.
Our online ePrescribing learning center makes it easy to evaluate the options and choose the appropriate system for your needs.
At Zero-In Rx.com you can access unbiased vendor information and reviews, calculate time savings and Medicare incentives, and determine the cost of implementing a system.
Making the transition to electronic health records can seem more daunting than adopting ePrescribing. But the AMA’s succinct guide “Health IT Stimulus Funding and You” takes the mystery out of meaningful use requirements and how to qualify for incentives.
In addition to these resources, the AMA continues to offer regular Health IT webinars on a range of topics – from meaningful use and the patient centered medical home to the EHR incentive program.
These webinars are a valuable opportunity to not only hear from the experts, but also get your Health IT questions answered. We’ve recorded and uploaded them on our website for your reference, so I encourage you to visit the archive if you missed them.
And I want to mention a longer-term project, AMAgine, the AMA’s new online physician portal platform.
AMAgine is being tested by physicians and practice staff in Michigan who have offered valuable feedback on the platform as we move toward a national launch.
AMAgine offers information on the latest clinical guidelines and will ease the adoption of health information technologies such as e-prescribing and electronic health records.
It will also help physicians qualify for up to 44 thousand dollars in Heath IT incentive payments that will be available starting next year.
In addition to providing Medicare and Health IT support, the AMA has developed several resources to help you understand and respond to the new payment models being tested in Medicare, which Doctor Wilson mentioned.
We commissioned Harold D. Miller, Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, to write a white paper on the new models and their impact on physicians.
You can access both a summary and the full white paper online, and you can also listen to Mister Miller discuss his findings in an AMA webinar.
We also launched a seminar series on the topic called “AMA Pathways to Success,” which is being held in cities across the nation. The day-long seminars feature both national and local experts on the concepts of ACOs, bundled payments and medical homes.
Participants not only gain a thorough understanding of what these models mean and how they work, but also how they can participate. Visit the Payment Pathways page on the AMA website to access all these resources and find out when a seminar is scheduled for your area.
While health system reform continues to demand the lion’s share of attention these days, the AMA has not forgotten about the other issues you encounter on a day-to-day basis.
For example, take your daily interactions with insurers. How often have insurers underpaid you? Or refused to pay you at all for your services?
The AMA’s Heal the Claims Process campaign is going strong, and physicians are taking advantage of both our online guides and free Claims Workflow Assistant tool to successfully monitor and appeal claim denials.
One practice in Chicago recovered $19,000 over six months from appealing a single type of underpaid claim.
And a small spinal surgery practice in New Jersey was paid the additional $17,500 it was owed after sending a complaint letter to the CEO of the insurance company in question.
These are just two examples of how physicians are saving thousands of dollars by monitoring and appealing claims. You can too.
Another practice management tool you should be aware of is the groundbreaking AMA PATH application, or Practice Analysis Tools for Healthcare.
I know there are a lot of acronyms to keep track of at the AMA, so let me help you remember this one. You can think of AMA PATH as your path to freedom from costly, time-consuming, and stressful audits.
AMA PATH helps you develop a sound fee schedule and implement process improvements to safeguard against audits.
In short, it gives physician practices access to the kind of knowledge typically available only through expensive consultants.
Of course this is but a small selection of the many efforts the AMA has undertaken in the past five months.
The Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement. The Advocacy Resource Center. The Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies.
Each of these groups – and others – are working tirelessly on your behalf . . . so that you can focus your energies on treating America’s patients.
In order to keep you abreast of AMA efforts, as well as the latest breaking medical and health system reform news, the AMA has intensified our focus on communication.
On September 8th we launched our new and improved electronic weekly newsletter, AMA Wire. The new format is not only easy to scan, but also highly focused – with increased opportunities to tailor your subscription to your personal interests and needs.
We also recently published the first volume of AMA Advantage, a concise resource guide that introduces you to the latest AMA products and services.
The AMA wants to ensure that our communications with you are not only timely and relevant, but also open. We are not here to only share success stories. We also want to keep you apprised of ongoing concerns.
In that spirit of open communication then, I want to talk “back-office” with you for a moment.
As you know, membership at the AMA – as at so many associations around the country – continues to be a challenge.
In response, this past July our AMA Board Chair, Dr. Ardis Hoven, convened a task force to investigate alternative membership structures.
Headed by Dr. David Barbe, the Chair of the AMA Membership Committee, the task force includes several officers of the board, as well as the CLPRD Chair and members of both the Membership Committee and AMA management.
The goal of the task force is clear – to identify potential long-term solutions and alternatives to the current membership model that will make for a stronger, more effective AMA.
Since August, various subgroups have been working hard toward that goal. They’ve investigated prior AMA efforts on this issue – such as the extensive findings of the Committee on Organization of Organizations from 2003 – as well as the latest relevant data and information.
In October each subgroup presented their conclusions to the Task Force as a whole, and some potentially beneficial membership concepts – both individual and organizational – were identified.
Earlier this week, the AMA Board recommended investigating these concepts further and moving into the next phase.
That involves developing a project plan, establishing a timeline, and determining the resource requirements – such as additional research, financial modeling, and outside legal and tax consultation.
During this next phase we will engage representatives from each of the key stakeholder groups, including AMA Council members, state and specialty leaders, special groups, delegates, and others.
This is a priority for the AMA and your Board. The future of the AMA depends on it.
Returning to the “front office” if you will, we have created several new avenues for members to openly and regularly voice their opinions on key issues such as membership.
In short, we want to ensure that communication at the AMA is a two-way street. And to show just how serious we are about this, President Wilson himself has taken the lead.
Dr. Wilson’s monthly Office Hours sessions are a unique and rare opportunity in an organization of this magnitude – a chance to speak one on one with the president, express your views, and get your questions answered.
If you have not done so already, I urge you to phone in for one of these valuable sessions.
The AMA also recently reinitiated our Member Connect Surveys to obtain your feedback on critical issues. And the response rate has been excellent.
More than 5,000 members weighed in on nine resolutions prior to the Annual Meeting, and more than 4,000 on the resolutions for Interim.
In addition, we launched a separate Member Connect Survey on health system reform. And your responses will inform the AMA’s actions on this hot topic going forward.
I know as physicians you can be inundated with surveys from different groups, but I encourage you to take advantage of the Member Connect Surveys.
Remember, the best way to impact AMA policy is to voice your opinion before the House sits down to vote.
Finally, the AMA has created new opportunities for you to easily interact with one another. We’ve launched a series of private, online communities devoted to discussing specific topics – from medical education, to physician health, to Medical Student issues.
Accessed by invitation only, you can feel secure knowing that you are interacting exclusively with your peers.
To date we’ve already launched six groups, and we’ll be launching two more by December – a Health IT Group, and a Young Physicians Group.
In sum, the AMA is listening. In addition to pushing for legislative change on Capitol Hill, we continue to respond to your daily needs with a wide range of tools and communications.
On a more personal note – as you have heard from Dr. Hoven, I will be leaving the AMA at the end of June. This was a decision that was reached mutually, between the Board and myself. It’s the right decision at the right time, for everyone.
An old friend once wrote me that “all good things must come to an end,” and my service at the AMA has been both a pleasure and a wonderful opportunity that clearly falls into that category.
We have done some good things together – establishing the financial stability of the AMA; the “Everyday Heroes” and “Voice for the Uninsured” campaigns; the Scope of Practice Partnership; passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and so many other accomplishments.
However, there are some challenges that remain. As you have just heard, membership remains a problem that needs to be solved, and I have no doubt that it will.
As the song says, “time and change” are constants in life. This transition will afford me an opportunity to take what I have learned and experienced over the past decade and put it into practice in a new and different environment.
And as the Boy Scouts say, I will miss you around this biennial campfire. Have a great meeting. Thank You.
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