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White House Asks Physicians to “Embrace” Change

White House Asks Physicians to “Embrace” Change

We just entered the fifth month of the new, post-federal health reform world and just in case you had any concerns, the White House is here to remind you to relax, take a deep breath and get ready to change nearly everything about the way you practice medicine.

In the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, and two medical colleagues, including Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD — perhaps better known as the White House chief of staff’s brother — have authored a tome on the “opportunities and challenges” presented by the Affordable Care Act , passed on March 23.

Noting the legislation as a “once-in-a-generation change to the U.S. health system,” the authors note its numerous benefits, from providing more Americans with medical care and better coordinated care at that, to providing physicians with better information “to make them better clinicians.”

“To realize the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, physicians will need to embrace rather than resist change,” the article states. “The economic forces put in motion by the Act are likely to lead to vertical organization of providers and accelerate physician employment by hospitals and aggregation into larger physician groups. The most successful physicians will be those who most effectively collaborate with other providers to improve outcomes, care productivity, and patient experience. “

Let me translate for those of you not skilled in Capitol Hill-ese: Stop fighting health reform. It’s here, it will change your profession forever, so get on-board now. Oh, and solo practices, get ready to merge …there’s a yield right around the corner.

I won’t drill down into the further details of the White House’s pep rally for health reform, from touting better care through patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations to the myriad of benefits of EHRs, but I do encourage you to read the article and note the 10 “key summary points” DeParle and her co-authors say will change medicine in a good way. (Spoiler Alert: You’ve heard of them before, so don’t expect anything new.)

I will, however, share two more sections of the article meant to “inspire” you:

“Physicians have a moral calling to promote the health of their patients and the overall health of all citizens. Many barriers have prevented U.S. physicians from fully realizing these ideals. The Affordable Care Act not only removes many of these barriers but also puts in motion new policies and economic incentives that will change the practice of medicine for clinicians and the experience of care.”

“Physicians who embrace these changes and opportunities are likely to deliver the greatest benefits to their patients, the health system, and themselves. Physician practices that accept the challenge will be rewarded in the future payment system. Once we accomplish this transformation, the U.S. system will be more reliable, will be more accessible, and will offer higher-quality and higher-value care. For physicians, this means a profession that is more rewarding, more productive, and better able to realize its moral ideal.

Feel better about health reform now? Feel better about the future of your profession? Good, that’s what the White House was hoping.

Now I’ve spoken to physicians who say they feel reform will set the profession on a better path and I’ve spoken to those who say the end result, come 2014, will be the end of the solo practice and the rise of group practices and hospital consolidation.

I personally take a “cautiously optimistic” stance when it comes to legislation out of Washington, D.C. Bills are like painting a room of your house: You go in with one thought of the outcome in mind, it is an arduous and sometimes messy process, and in the end, it’s not quite what you had hoped, but you learn to live with it.

So what do you think of the new hue of health reform: Can you live with it or are you headed to the store for a new color? I know some of you are considering red over blue come 2012 already.
Perhaps you should print the article out and post it on your wall when you have doubts about the future. Or just repeat “embrace change,” “embrace change”……




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