President’s Message: Letting Doctors Be Doctors

Published Feb. 19, 2018

It’s no secret that the landscape of healthcare, and particularly the practice of medicine, has changed.

While many improvements have been made in the treatment of disease and injury, the business of caring for patients is now unfortunately influenced greatly by outside parties, particularly policymakers and insurance companies. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that their interests extend somewhat outside of providing quality care for patients.

Meanwhile, the mission of a physician hasn’t changed. Physicians spend years in classrooms and in clinics learning the techniques and attaining the knowledge necessary to care for our fellow humans. We are among the most educated people in the world, and yet, too often, decisions regarding treatment are not left up to us.

Prior authorizations prevent us from delivering care as quickly as we would prefer and sometimes need. Administrative burdens force us to see fewer patients per day and spend more time in front of a computer screen. Insurance policies dictate what tests we can and cannot administer. The fear of a malpractice claim in a state without tort reform looms overhead constantly.

I recently returned from both KMA’s Physicians’ Day at the Capitol in Frankfort and the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. Both KMA and AMA are working hard for the best interests of physicians and patients, but we as individuals need to join in advocating for the needed change ourselves. In Kentucky, meaningful tort reform and peer review protections are moving through the state legislature in the form of Senate Bills 2 and 20 and House Bill 4. KMA’s public health priorities are also gaining traction in the legislature, which would provide our patients more opportunities to improve their health. It’s time to make those calls to your senators and representatives to ensure that needed change is made.

KMA is also working beyond the legislative session with a new initiative called AIM for Better Care: Administrative Improvements in Medicine. AIM is a long-term project that will work toward solutions to lessen administrative burdens that are ultimately detrimental to the health of Kentuckians. It will focus specifically on administrative issues currently impacting treatment for conditions plaguing our residents: smoking, drug abuse, diabetes, obesity and flu/pneumonia. More information about the AIM project is available here.

Physician voices are far too valuable to be drowned out by noise from those not on the frontlines of patient care every day. Policymakers and insurance companies need to let doctors be doctors, but we will have to be our own biggest advocates first.