While the sustainable growth-rate Medicare-payment formula continued to dominate physician news, a multitude of other issues—including marijuana legalization and mystery-shopper shenanigans—helped make things interesting in 2011.
Mystery shopping for medical marijuana? Notes from the year in physician news
Some of the changes in leadership in 2011 included Dr. Howard Bauchner leaving his post as professor of pediatrics and community health sciences at Boston University School of Medicine to become the new editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association on July 1, replacing Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, who had been editor since 2000. Among the JAMA changes Bauchner discussed were shortening articles while lengthening article abstracts and adding more accompanying editorials that would help put research findings in the context of larger issues within the nation's healthcare system.
Darryl Matthews Sr. was appointed executive director of the National Medical Association, and Dr. Peter Angood became the new CEO of the American College of Physician Executives
In other developments, the California Medical Association endorsed the legalization of marijuana, and the Joint Commission got into the medical home designation game.
HHS dropped its plan for a "mystery-shopper" survey in which 4,185 primary-care physicians were going to be called by some people trying to make an appointment while pretending they have private insurance as well as by other people pretending to be on public plans. The proposed survey came under some harsh criticism from Congress, especially Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) who sent a letter to HHS demanding answers to 12 questions including “If your researchers report bad information or use this survey for extortion, bribery or other bad acts, how will they be disciplined?"
In July, Kirk also had harsh words for the AMA when he appeared at an American College of Surgeons program in Chicago. When asked what ACS members can do to influence events in Washington, Kirk suggested that members do what they could to influence the AMA, which he said had become “an utterly politically correct organization that swings with the political winds.”
Speaking of influence, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Association of American Medical Colleges pledged to become stronger and more vocal advocates for the segments of the healthcare industry that they each represent.
And speaking of influential, Dr. Patricia Gabow—who was named to Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Women in Healthcare and 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare lists twice each, and to the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives list four times—announced this year that she would retire in 2012. Gabow, CEO of Colorado safety-net provider Denver Health since 1992, joined the organization in 1973 as chief of its renal disease division. She told of one person who has had an influence on her throughout the years.
"I get a Christmas card each year from one of the first patients I ever saw," Gabow recalled. "She had a very bad kidney problem and we saved her life."
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
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