by David Markenson, MD, MBA, President, Colorado Medical Society
Featured in the May-June 2020 Colorado Medicine Colorado Medicine.
The Colorado Medical Society stands with Colorado physicians during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 public health emergency and beyond. Following our March 13 CMS Board of Directors meeting, the last in-person meeting of any kind at CMS headquarters, we deployed a host of resources, activities and enhanced communication to help you navigate the crisis. I hope they have been useful to you. Below is a summary of these actions.
COVID-19 discussion forum
The first action CMS took to address the crisis was to launch a discussion forum via the Basecamp platform to promote peer-to peer discussion among the House of Medicine, resource sharing, CMS information and as a source of information regarding barriers to care and pain points experienced by our members and others.
CMS COVID-19 website
CMS also created and continually updates a COVID-19 micro-website within CMS.org. This is the most comprehensive source of resources geared to physicians.
House of Medicine coordination
The COVID-19 crisis has deeply affected all health care providers, and one early action CMS took was to unite the specialty medical societies and component medical societies in Colorado into one Colorado House of Medicine. Explained more in depth below, this has meant inviting organizations to co-sponsor and promote events, holding regular briefing calls and coordinating advocacy for the benefit of all Colorado physicians.
Virtual Physicians’ Town Halls
These are geared to a broad physician audience. The format is to invite expert panelists to present on hot topics followed by a question-and-answer session. Our panelists have included U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner; Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; Eric France, MD, MSPH, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Lisa Latts, MD, MSPH, chief medical officer of HCPF; and many more. Many component and specialty societies have committed to co-sponsorship of these events to promote a unified House of Medicine.
Weekly presidents’ calls
We have hosted many calls for the presidents of the component and specialty societies and their executive staff. Again, the goal is for a unified House of Medicine and participation has been high. The group has agreed to co-host town halls and webinars and to send joint advocacy letters to government leaders.
Focused topic-specific webinars
An idea that came from the presidents’ calls was to supplement the town halls with topic-focused educational webinars co-sponsored by individual organizations in the House of Medicine that highlight their specialty or focus. One example was the wellness webinar co-sponsored with the Colorado Psychiatric Society. Topics are suggested from the Basecamp discussion forum and suggestions from specialty and component society leadership.
Virtual Grand Rounds
Similar to the topic-specific webinars but held in the evening, CMS has hosted two Virtual Grand Rounds events, one on Crisis Standards of Care and another on testing. The goal is to make these events eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and COPIC Points.
CMS has been working in partnership with the Colorado Hospital Association and COPIC to provide mental health support for our practitioners. The first of these initiatives is a Care Line run by the Colorado Physician Health Program. They will be providing dedicated coping support throughout this public health emergency, with resources from CMS, COPIC and CHA.
Enhanced member communication
CMS staff and leadership send regular communications to our full membership and beyond through email blasts and social media posts highlighting key items of interest for physicians.
Engagement and advocacy
As CMS does every day, we are strongly involved in advocating for the needs of our physicians and remaining engaged in all aspects of health care and public health. Our advocacy has led to changes in policies, new programs and modified procedures to assist physicians during this public health emergency and to better support our patients. In addition, we are engaged as the voice of the physicians in Colorado in a multitude of decisions by our governmental leaders and regulators. Letters we have sent urged the expansion of liability protections, support of health care workers and expansion of COVID-19 testing.
I am so pleased to see the engagement of CMS members with the Colorado Medical Society. I am also heartened to see how members are posing questions and other members are providing solutions. This is a testament to how peer-to-peer support and continuous learning is core to our profession.
I am listening to all the comments and concerns raised through virtual events, the discussion forum and sent directly to email@example.com, and taking special note of the pain points and challenges you are all experiencing. My commitment to you is that CMS will continue to raise these issues with the appropriate government leaders, seek solutions that include our input, and communicate to you, our members, the status of these issues and solutions. We will also stress the importance in this time, as every day, that efforts are made to improve the practice of medicine for physicians so we can do what we are uniquely qualified to do: provide high quality care to our patients, educate our patients and their families about their needs and public health, and to continue to be the trusted source of knowledge regarding health care and public health.
I would like to especially call out the leadership of our CEO, Bryan Campbell, and our incredible staff for their exceptional and tireless work during this public health emergency. They have assured that our members have been supported; our communications have been accurate, leading edge and regular; maintained our engagement with government leaders and regulators; and provided both member-wide and individual responses to queries and concerns from the physicians of Colorado. I cannot speak highly enough of their work during these trying times and how their efforts have led to CMS being viewed as the trusted voice of the physicians of Colorado, the unifying force of the House of Medicine and providing the needed support for our members.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank all of you for doing what you do. As physicians, you are doing what physicians have been known for doing for centuries, and still should be recognized for doing today. That is, providing the best care for our patients, advocating for the needs of our patients and the public, educating the public, and being an accurate and reassuring voice in these times of a public health emergency. I salute you, the physicians of Colorado for your caring and leadership today and every day.