VMS membership adopts new resolutions

The Vermont Medical Society adopted policy resolutions that address a number of issues important to the state’s physicians, including improving the transition of care, supporting physician leadership, alleviating the burden of quality reporting, and setting standards for investigations conducted by the Vermont Board of Medical Practice.  VMS members approved the resolutions during the organization’s 200th annual meeting held Oct. 19, at Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vt.  

“There are a number of opportunities and challenges facing Vermont’s health care system during this time of great transition,” said Daniel Walsh, M.D., VMS’ newly elected president.  “By passing these resolutions our members seek to impact health care public policy in our state, with our priorities being improving access to quality health care as well as protecting and strengthening the patient/physician relationship.”

The resolutions will form the basis of the organization’s 2014 public policy efforts on behalf of its 2,000 physician members. The adopted resolutions were (click here for the resolutions in their entirety): 

Improving Transition of Care – Recognizes that the U.S. health care system often fails to meet the needs of patients transitioning from one care setting to another (i.e., hospital, home or a long-term care facility), and that care is frequently rushed, responsibility is fragmented, and there is often little communication between care settings and multiple providers.  The resolution calls for improved transition of care by resolving VMS to work the physician community and payors to educate on the use of the transition of care codes and improving care coordination, providing better incentives to ensure patients are seen in a physician’s office, rather than be at risk for readmission, and encouraging precise and meaningful discharge summaries.  

Advances in Primary Care and Public Health Integration through Population Health – Calls for increased integration of efforts between public health and primary care to better address the root causes of illness, prevent additional cases of disease, and to make the default choices of individuals healthy ones.  Seeks to accomplish this by committing VMS to work with numerous organizations and government agencies to implement the set of principles developed by the Institute of Medicine that they deem essential for successful integration, such as:

- A shared goal of population heath improvement;
- Community engagement in defining and addressing population health needs;
- Aligned leadership;
- Sustainability, including shared infrastructure; and
- Sharing and collaborative use of data and analysis.

Burden of Quality Reporting – Seeks to address the inordinate and inefficient amount of time physicians spend dealing with multiple formularies, claims and billing procedures, credentialing requirements, prior authorization and quality reporting requirements by recommending the elimination of reporting requirements where there is a lack of evidence supporting their benefits and identifying ways to standardize the definitions and calculations for quality metrics used by the federal and state government entities, insurance payers, and others.  

Electronic Medical Records and the Medical Record – Encourages Vermont’s Congressional delegation to support the efforts of the Health Story Project to ensure that health information exchange standards go beyond a narrow, common data set to encompass the common types of clinical records.  The resolution also calls for Electronic Medical Records and other communication applications to respect the clinical voice and emphasize the medical record as a critical element in providing high quality care to patients.

Support for Physician Policy Involvement and Physician Leadership Education – Seeks to capitalize on physicians’ unique qualities that are critical for health care reform leadership to ensure that physicians have opportunities to be actively involved in forming policy in all arenas of health care reform.  Additionally, the resolution calls for the portion of hospital budgets allocated by the Green Mountain Care Board for staff engagement in health care reform initiatives be used in part to support physician leadership, with special emphasis on Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation efforts to have the training and education they need to function effectively as leaders in the health care reform environment.

Investigation Standards for the Vermont Board of Medical Practice – Citing physician concerns that investigators from the Vermont Board of Medical Practice (VBMP) sometimes arrive unannounced at practices and request copies of patients’ records without a release or court order, and that the VBMP has no clear standards for conducting investigations that they initiate, the resolution calls for the VBMP to establish by rule procedures for investigations of alleged unprofessional conduct, as well as:

- Providing meaningful notice of unprofessional conduct charges to licensees and a meaningful opportunity to respond to complaints; 
- Adopting clear and transparent standards for the use and disclosure of patients’ medical records requested in the course of an investigation of a licensee; and, 
- Amending the physician license profile law to require the VBMP and Department of Health to remove any charges, findings or orders if the licensing authority or a court has dismissed the charges.

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