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Lazarus outlines AMA initiatives during Society Health Policy Forum

American Medical Association (AMA) President Jeremy Lazarus, MD, discussed the importance of physician leadership in health system reform with about 50 Wisconsin Medical Society members and other health care leaders last Friday at Society headquarters. During the Health Policy Forum, he also outlined the AMA’s strategic initiatives and answered questions from audience members.

“We think at this point that our strategic plan is something that all physicians can get behind and indeed that we think the country can get behind because I think these things are beneficial for everyone,” Dr. Lazarus said about these three initiatives:

  • Improve health outcomes for patients
  • Enhance physician satisfaction by shaping delivery and payment models
  • Accelerate the pace of change in medical education

To improve health outcomes, the AMA is looking at the positive steps already occurring to reduce disease burden and the costs associated with chronic diseases. It is working with outcomes experts to identify which clinical conditions affect a large segment of the U.S. population, and how the AMA can make a meaningful impact. The organization also soon will announce the first two conditions that it will address. “As physicians and as medical professionals, we need to do what we can to prevent these diseases from occurring, deal with the risk factors and treat them appropriately,” Dr. Lazarus said.

Regarding physician satisfaction, he said, the AMA is “trying to do everything we can to put the joy back in practicing medicine and create models to help that occur.” It is analyzing various health care models to identify the factors most critical to physician and patient satisfaction and already is exploring new delivery and payment methods through its Physicians Innovator Committee.

In addition, Dr. Lazarus said, the AMA has chosen six states where it will work with a broad base of physician practices to identify which models tend to promote satisfaction and sustainability in different practice situations. Wisconsin is one of the states participating in this effort (read more in the January 24 issue of Medigram).

The AMA’s third strategic initiative seeks to accelerate change in undergraduate medical education to keep pace with the evolving health care system. For example, medical students receive most of their clinical training in an in-patient setting; however, for every one person admitted to a hospital, 300 patients receive care in an out-patient setting.

Doctor Lazarus also discussed the Affordable Care Act, Medicare’s sustainable growth rate, medical liability and other issues the AMA and physicians face on a daily basis.

“We have been trying to deliver a very strong message that we think the way our health care system needs to develop and transform should be with physician leadership,” he said in his concluding remarks. “We are encouraged … that many physicians are stepping up to the task, are willing to take on these challenges, are willing to be in leadership positions, are willing to lead these ACOs, are with us in trying to change undergraduate medical education and I think are going to work with us on the outcomes part of what the AMA is doing.”

Back to March 21, 2013 Medigram