Physician Practice Roundup—AAMC chief has fix for doctor shortage; Medical groups back value-based payments for opioid treatment

Association of American Medical Colleges chief says this could fix U.S. doctor shortage

Congress needs to pass a measure to end a longstanding cap on funds choking the number of medical residencies in the U.S., the chief of the Association of American Medical Colleges said this week.

"The work that is in the control of medical schools to increase the number of medical students has been done. Congress needs to act," said Darrell Kirch, M.D., while addressing reporters about healthcare workforce challenges at the Association of Health Care Journalists' conference in Phoenix. 

He renewed his calls for Congress to pass a bill with bipartisan support. AAMC articleFierceHealthcare article

Backed by medical groups, value-based payments for opioid addiction treatment could be imminent

Two medical associations have announced a collaborative value-based payment model for opioid addiction treatment amid discussions in Congress on how to manage the crisis. 

The payment model (PDF) is aimed at improving care coordination and lowering healthcare spending by reducing costly emergency department visits and hospitalizations, which are common for people with addiction. Announced by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association, the model increases utilization of and access to medications for opioid treatment, combining them with the appropriate level of medical, psychological and social support services that can be delivered at multiple providers, similar to an ACO.

The organizations said medication-assisted treatment is currently underutilized due to limited insurance coverage, a shortage of qualified physicians and a lack of access to addiction specialists for many patients. FierceHealthcare article

DEA to share prescription drug data with 50 attorneys general, crack down on drugmakers

The Drug Enforcement Agency has reached an agreement with 50 attorneys general to share prescription drug data with one another to support ongoing investigations.

As part of the agreement, the DEA will provide attorneys general in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with data from its Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS), which collects 80 million prescription drug transactions from manufacturers and distributors each year.

Delaware and Arkansas are the only two states not participating in the data-sharing agreement, according to a DEA spokesperson Barbara Carreno. 

In return, states will provide the federal agency with their own data from prescription drug monitoring programs, according to an announcement. FierceHealthcare article

Intermountain Healthcare gets providers and patients involved in fighting opioid abuse

Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare set a bold goal last year in its efforts to curb opioid abuse: Reduce prescriptions for the pain relievers by 40% by the end of 2018. 

Now, eight months into the project they started in August, the system has already cut prescription rates 20% by working to get both physicians and patients behind the effort.

Intermountain asked doctors to focus on three main areas: cutting down on acute opioid prescriptions, reducing how frequently opiates are prescribed alongside benzodiazepines, and offering medication-assisted recovery treatments, David Hasleton, M.D., associate chief medical officer at the health system told FierceHealthcare in an interview. At the same time, they sought to educate patients about the effort, he said. FierceHealthcare article

As burnout spreads, healthcare organizations scramble for answers

Physician burnout may grab headlines, but a new survey shows its effects extend to all clinicians and even up to the C-suite.

The percentage of organizations labeling burnout a moderate or severe problem dropped slightly from 2016 and 2017, according to NEJM Catalyst’s latest Insight Council survey, but that figure remains substantial at 83%. On a more worrisome note, the survey indicates burnout concerns are prevalent in just under 80% of registered nurses, and for over half of advanced practice nurses and clinical leaders.

Forty-two percent of executives categorized burnout as a major concern. FierceHealthcare article

52% of medical practices satisfied with their organization's culture

Satisfaction with company culture is a priority for employees in many industries.

A new poll by the Medical Group Management Association found just more than half of medical groups are satisfied with their organization’s culture, such as norms, values and mission.

The April 10 poll of almost 1,400 medical practice leaders found 52% said they were satisfied, another 31% were “somewhat” satisfied and 17% said they were not satisfied with their organization's culture. Factors such as engagement, teamwork, shared-experience, and camaraderie contributed to employee fulfillment at work. MGMA poll

Physician group offers ways to reduce healthcare disparities

The American College of Physicians (ACP) published a paper this week that recommended ways to reduce healthcare disparities.

The physicians' group published its recommendations in the Annals of Internal Medicine, addressing social determinants of health that it hopes will improve patient care and promote health equity.

“It’s important that physicians and other medical professionals recognize and account for social determinants of health to create a more comprehensive approach with our patients. Moreover, such an approach can help eliminate significant health inequalities often associated with social determinants of health, such as homelessness, food insecurity and mental health stressors such as domestic violence or social isolation,” said Jack Ende, M.D. ACP’s president. ACP position paper