Making CMS the “go-to place” for all physicians

Sunday, January 01, 2012 12:15 PM
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New initiative to identify, address needs for employed physicians

Sara Burnett, CMS contributing writer

As more and more physicians choose to become an employee instead of owning their own practice, Colorado Medical Society is launching a new initiative to ensure the organization remains relevant to all doctors, regardless of where they work.

The initiative will include interviews and surveys of physicians in multiple practice settings, including those employed by health systems, hospitals, federally qualified health centers and the University of Colorado. It will seek to determine where these physicians currently find value in CMS, and what more CMS could be doing to help and appeal to them.

“It’s important to ensure that CMS addresses the needs of all physicians in Colorado,” says Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD, a member of the CMS Board of Directors.

Osbourne-Roberts, who practices at a community health clinic in Commerce City, will lead a task force appointed by the board to oversee the initiative. The group will present its findings and recommendations to the board for discussion at the 2012 CMS Annual Meeting in September.

Changing practices
Traditionally, the majority of CMS members have been physicians in small, private practices. But in recent years, the number of those physicians who have gone to work in other settings has increased. So has the percent of final-year residents in the past decade who say they would prefer hospital employment to partnership or group practice, according to the Merritt Hawkins 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents.

During a retreat in the fall of 2010, CMS and component society leaders identified this trend as a “mega-issue” that the organizations must address, both to ensure their relevance and to promote unity among existing members as well as physicians statewide.

Osbourne-Roberts believes there are several issues that are important to all physicians, regardless of practice setting, such as the liability climate, patient safety, physician well-being and professional ethics. CMS has been a leader and provided valuable advocacy in all of these areas, he notes.

But physicians who aren’t in private practice may have other needs or may like to have access to member benefits that aren’t currently offered, Osbourne-Roberts says.

What physicians need
To determine what those needs are, CMS is contracting with former CMS President Rick May, MD, who will conduct interviews and focus groups with employed physicians and their employers. Pollster Benjamin Kupersmit will provide analysis from several years of CMS member surveys and create and administer surveys of non-member physicians employed by the 15 largest physician employers in Colorado.

The task force appointed by the board will also seek to gather information from medical societies in other states, and will work with May to conduct physician outreach meetings – essentially “Employed Physician Town Halls.”

All of this research and analysis will inform the new strategies that will ultimately be implemented by the board.

CMS President Brent Keeler, MD, stresses that the process will be a thoughtful one aimed at truly learning about and offering the services and benefits physicians need.

“We would like to see CMS be the go-to place for all physicians in Colorado,” Keeler says. “The hope is that a year from now we’ll have doctors at Kaiser or Denver Health or in other work models who say ‘You know what, CMS has done some good things for my colleague down the hall, and I want to be a member too.’ That’s the ultimate message.”

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Practice Management | Initiatives


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