Physician Health

How 17 health systems rose to meet the moment in 2023

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

In a year when inflation, staff shortages and Medicare payment cuts were added to U.S. health care’s growing list of challenges, the AMA has recognized the outstanding efforts of AMA Health System Program members. The program provides enterprise solutions to equip health system leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

Help Move Medicine

Medicine doesn’t stand still, and neither do we. AMA members don’t just keep up with medicine—they shape its future.

Below are just a few highlights of health system excellence that helped remove obstacles to care, confront major health crises, and drive the future of medicine, as captured in news articles published on the AMA website. Recognition is one benefit of being an AMA Health System Program member.

  1. This health system says calling physicians “providers” is not OK

    1. Government and commercial insurance sectors were early adopters of the term “provider” in health care, with Medicare using it since 1965 to describe entities eligible to receive Medicare payment. But physician leaders at Delaware-based Bayhealth have had enough, and they are putting a stop to using the term “provider” when referring to physicians.
    2. “Some physicians find it a very negative and derogatory term to address them,” said Thomas Vaughan, MD, chief wellness officer at Bayhealth. “It is felt to have come from insurance companies and others who are trying to make medicine transactional, as opposed to a relationship between patients and physicians.”
    3. Patients deserve care led by physicians—the most highly educated, trained and skilled health professionals. Learn how, as part of the Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians, the AMA vigorously defends the practice of medicine against scope of practice expansions that threaten patient safety.
  2. Key credentialing change has big upside for physician well-being

    1. Momentum is growing for a nationwide effort to remove stigmatizing mental health questions from applications for state licensing and credentialing applications used by medical groups, hospitals and health plans. The goal is to remove the barriers that have been shown to deter physicians from getting the care they need. Psychiatrist Lisa MacLean, MD, led the effort to change the question on the credentialing application at Henry Ford Health, where she is the chief clinical wellness officer of the Henry Ford Medical Group.
    2. Learn more about Henry Ford Health’s three-step process for boosting physician well-being. Far too many American physicians experience burnout. That's why the AMA develops resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so physicians can focus on what matters—patient care.
    3. In addition, explore how Henry Ford Health activates patients to spot problems earlier, and tailors its EHR to boost diabetes prevention.
  3. Offering a telehealth lifeline for endocrinology patients in rural areas

    1. To achieve parity on virtual health, demonstrate its value, says North Dakota endocrinologist who uses a variety of methods to reach patients hundreds of miles away. For Sanford Health endocrinologist David Newman, MD, virtual technology has been a lifesaver in treating the unique patient population he serves in North Dakota and other areas.
    2. Telehealth is critical to the future of health care, which is why the AMA continues to lead the charge to aggressively expand telehealth policy, research and resources to ensure physician practice sustainability and fair payment.
    3. In addition, explore how Sanford Health keeps pressing to prevent doctor burnout and is training new general surgeons to thrive in rural practice.
  4. At Iowa’s only long COVID clinic, persistence pays off

    1. At the University of Iowa (UI) Hospitals & Clinics, physicians in the UI Health Care Post-COVID-19 Clinic are fighting long COVID on several fronts.
    2. They’re studying long COVID and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection), looking for its manifestations and potential treatments. They’re trying to get the word out to primary care physicians about how best to treat long COVID patients and when to refer to specialist clinics like theirs in Iowa City. And, most urgently, they’re providing treatment—and hope—to those living in rural areas with this poorly understood condition.
    3. Also, learn why saving lives with ECMO is a team endeavor at UI, and how leaders are fighting the “pandemic-informed burnout” that is haunting medicine.
  5. With rural family doctors in short supply, Geisinger grows its own

    1. Geisinger Lewistown Hospital resides in a rural, agricultural area of Pennsylvania that serves a needy population. Patients are older, sicker and more socially and economically marginalized. A subset of the population, the Amish, are disproportionately affected by rare genetic diseases.
    2. Geisinger family physician Mandy Maneval, MD, PhD, knows that rural medicine can be a hard sell. A physician practicing in a community with limited resources and few specialists often needs a jack-of-all-trades mentality to help their patients. That’s why she helped conceive a residency program designed to hone this unique skill set.
    3. In addition, learn how ob-gyn Susan Parisi, MD—the health system’s first chief wellness officer—brings physician insight to the role.
  6. How the biggest medical group in the U.S. is tackling burnout

    1. When tackling physician burnout, health care leaders must be prepared to use every tool in the well-being armamentarium—from organizational culture to practice efficacy—as part of a holistic framework, according to Amanjot Singh Sethi, MD, a urologist who directs wellness operations at the nation’s largest medical group.
    2. “This really reflects the comprehensive nature of the tactics that are needed to support physician well-being,” said Dr. Sethi, of The Permanente Medical Group Inc., one of the medical groups that delivers care to the patients of the Kaiser Permanente health system.
    3. Explore how Kaiser Permanente’s AI approach puts patients and doctors first, and how the health system’s swift communication of mammography results eases anxiety. Kaiser Permanente leaders also are sharing what they have learned in their efforts to dramatically increase hepatitis C screening.
  7. Ochsner Health takes next step on fall prevention with remote tech

    1. Falls lead to 32,000 deaths annually among older U.S. adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one American senior falls every second. While hospitals have long employed a number of measures designed to prevent falls among inpatients, Louisiana-based Ochsner Health is working to reduce this deadly toll through remote-patient monitoring programs that track falls among older adults wherever they are. Even if a patient goes for a walk, their progress can be monitored.
    2. Learn how Ochsner Health innovates in digital health to improve postpartum outcomes and hypertension care. The Louisiana-based health system also is working on ways to identify patients harmed by bias.
  8. One key to success, from Marshfield’s woman physician CEO: Authenticity

    1. When Susan L. Turney, MD, took over as CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System nearly a decade ago, she scarcely could have imagined how a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic would test her leadership abilities to the limit.
    2. Ahead of her retirement as CEO this year, Dr. Turney reflected on some of the keys she’s learned over her career as a practicing internist and CEO of Marshfield. With women health care leaders still too rare, Dr. Turney shared some of her hard-won wisdom with younger women physicians. One key, she said, is to strive for authenticity. 

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  9. How Saint Peter’s is solving patients’ food insecurity concerns

    1. Using a nationally standardized questionnaire, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Jersey began to screen their mostly Hispanic patient population for social determinants of health and identified transportation and food insecurity as their major concerns. To address patients’ concerns about reliable access to healthful meals, the health system collaborates with local farmers’ markets and provides vouchers to patients so they can obtain nutritious food.
    2. Also find out how Saint Peter’s surgeons are advancing a less invasive approach as an option for patients with scoliosis.
  10. What it takes to create a first-class telehealth experience

    1. “Much like the economy class on an airline, the one-size-fits-all approach may not work for everyone—especially in health care,” according to Fernando Porter, MD, medical director of Privia Virtual Health and Life Ambulance Services. “With telehealth becoming a permanent fixture of our ‘new normal,’ it’s essential that we optimize this experience.”
    2. Dr. Porter is the founder of Capital City Primary and Immediate Care, in Silver Spring, Maryland, which is affiliated with Privia Medical Group, and wrote in further detail how Privia helps physician practices make telehealth a seamless experiences for patients and physicians.
    3. In addition, explore how physicians’ desire for independence drives Privia partnerships.
  11. Oncology practice network meets patient needs—and saves money too

    1. Maintaining independence is important to physicians—especially when it comes to being able to deliver the care their patients need in the manner that they want, without outside interference. The National Cancer Care Alliance (NCCA) serves as a catalyst for financial and clinical integration that allows oncology practices to operate independently while collaborating on best practices and sharing economies of scale.
    2. “Sometimes you need to be bigger than you can be in your own market,” said NCCA founder and chair Barbara L. McAneny, MD, adding that the organization allows oncologists to “be big when you want to be big and be small when you need to be small.”
  12. This Hattiesburg Clinic pediatrician speaks up for Mississippi moms, infants

    1. Years of advocacy have paid off in Mississippi, with passage of a new law that extends Medicaid postpartum coverage from only 60 days to a full year and will result in healthier mothers and babies—which one pediatrician says will result in healthier families overall.
    2. “Giving a mom health care coverage for 12 months helps create the ‘welcome mat’ effect,” said Anita S. Henderson, MD, a pediatrician with Hattiesburg Clinic. “If you have coverage, it improves the likelihood you will use it for yourself and seek care for your children.”
    3. Also find out how Hattiesburg Clinic embraces data to build on its well-being success.
  13. Health system’s latest innovation helps patients recover at home

    1. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, an integrated 10-hospital health system serving the Puget Sound region, continues its tradition of providing innovative, user-friendly health care with the launch of a program that helps patients recover at home instead of in the hospital.
    2. The Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Home Recovery Care program was launched earlier this year for Medicare fee-for-service patients at the system’s 328-bed St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. The program offers the same essential elements of care that a patient gets in hospital within the comforts of a patient’s home—a convenient and safe alternative to the traditional inpatient stay.
  14. When doctors take on leadership roles, the right coaching can help

    1. Doctors get lots of training and have years of experience in how to build rapport with individual patients to help them achieve better health outcomes. More rarely, however, do physicians get the targeted help that they need to make the transition into health-system leadership roles in which they are called upon to navigate fraught dynamics and find win-win solutions for the organizational team and the patients they serve together.
    2. But Baptist Health Medical Group, which provides care in Kentucky and southern Indiana, supports its physician leaders through a program that uses a series of assessments to evaluate participants, gauge their leadership styles, and fine tune those abilities through individual and group coaching sessions.
    3. Learn more about Baptist Health Medical Group, which offers innovative training programs to address shortages of medical coders and medical assistants.
  15. Focus on patients, quality care helps nephrology group thrive

    1. Like all practices, medical specialty groups are facing severe challenges from declining Medicare payments, workforce shortages and escalating costs. But a major nephrology organization is tackling these concerns by collaborating with primary care physicians, providing extensive patient education and focusing on addressing problems as far upstream as possible before patients’ health conditions worsen.
    2. Founded in 1971, Dallas Nephrology Associates (DNA) has been a leader in providing kidney care in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and its growth reflects the population boom seen in its home base. DNA now has more than 100 nephrologists practicing in 30 locations throughout the region.
  16. Why these 2 health systems are among nation’s top workplaces

    1. The excellence of the care delivered to patients by Atlantic Health System and Baptist Health South Florida has been well recognized by publications such as U.S. News and World Report and others. Both are also consistently named among the best places for their employees and staff to work.
    2. The two organizations made Fortune magazine’s “40 Best Large Workplaces in Health Care” list this year. Baptist Health, based in Coral Gables, made the 100-best list 23 times. Atlantic Health, based in Morristown, New Jersey, has made that list 14 times.

Among other benefits, members of the AMA Health System Program have access to the AMA Insight Network’s Quality, Safety and Equity community. This virtual forum provides an opportunity for like-minded leaders from across the country to hear more examples of how leading health systems are finding innovative ways to address health care inequities in their communities. Learn more.