It is an honor and a privilege to serve as President of the AMCNO for 2016-2017. I intend to work hard as a full-time president advocating on behalf of physicians and patients on healthcare issues.
At the annual meeting of the AMCNO, we honored physicians who graduated from medical school 50 years ago (1966). They were lucky because they practiced during the “golden age” of medicine. The pinnacle year was 1971, a time when medicine was simpler and the doctor-patient relationship ideal.
Unfortunately, medical practice has become more complex since then. The solo practitioner has largely disappeared, and a physician is likely to be an employee of a large hospital system, with his daily activities regulated by business administrators. Patients are scheduled frequently throughout the workday to increase economic efficiency, but this leaves little time for the physician to pursue other activities.
The physician’s workday has become extended because of the electronic heath record. Patients complain that the computer acts as a barrier, preventing doctors from even looking at them during a visit. The electronic health record demands a huge amount superfluous information, producing “chart bloat.”
Physician time is always at a premium. Physicians now are working longer hours, and family and leisure interests suffer. Medicine sometimes becomes an excuse from living. Physicians are less interested in participating in medical organizations and anticipate that their employer will take care of their needs. Despite this, it is important for physicians to become knowledgeable and involved in legislative and legal issues affecting their livelihood.
Economics have been the driving factor for change in the practice of medicine. The cost of medical care has risen faster than inflation and predicted to reach 20% of the GNP. Both Medicare and private insurance companies regularly cut payments to physicians as a means of controlling costs, a trend that continues today.
Physicians face new challenges. With the repeal of the sustained growth formula (SGR) in 2015, a new payment system (MACRA) looms ahead with an emphasis on quality. This is a system of rewards and penalties that will prove challenging for many physicians.
The AMCNO never rests in its role as protector. Much of our advocacy work occurs behind the scenes. We regularly meet with individual legislators, state officials, and other medical organizations. We monitor bills, and support or oppose healthcare legislation and testify at the Statehouse. Our goal is to help physicians avoid intrusive or unnecessary legislation. We partner with attorneys to review medical-legal issues and file amicus briefs with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Fortunately, the medical malpractice crisis has improved as a result of tort reforms upheld by the Supreme Court of Ohio. These reforms could be overturned by a change in the composition of the court from justices who advocate for judicial restraint to those who legislate from the bench. The AMCNO actively supports candidates for the Supreme Court who pledge to uphold tort reforms.
The AMCNO wants all residents of Northern Ohio to have access to high-quality health care and preventative services. We, therefore, partner with a number of community organizations to provide guidance, access, screening, and medical services for the community. This year we will focus on childhood health, smoking, obesity, and the opioid epidemic in addition to many other efforts.
Education is an important function of the AMCNO. We organize seminars and conferences for physicians, attorneys, healthcare workers and the public. The AMCNO strives to keep its members informed about the latest legislative and political developments in medicine. We publish a semi-monthly magazine, the Northern Ohio Physician, and send two email blasts per month, highlighting the activities of the organization.
The next year will be a challenging but exciting time for medicine. The AMCNO will serve as the voice for physicians in Northern Ohio. As AMCNO President, I will give my best efforts to represent your interests and to promote the highest quality of medicine.
Robert E. Hobbs, MD
Click here to see an interview between Dr. Hobbs and AMCNO Past President Dr. Anthony Bacevice, Jr.