October 20, 2008

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MMA Executive Committee Meets

The MMA 28-member Executive Committee met this past week and reviewed several topics, including academic detailing, e-prescribing, and the upcoming election.  The increasing amount of staff time dedicated to quality improvement and the patient centered medical home initiative was noted.  Three new members were elected to the Committee including Challa Reddy, M.D. of Dover-Foxcroft and two residents, Kristen Mitchell, D.O and Mark McAllister, M.D.  Drs. Mitchell and McAllister are both in the Maine Dartmouth Family Practice Residency Program in Augusta.

Jo Linder, M.D., an emergency physician from Falmouth is the new chair of the Committee.

The Association is negotiating an agreement with the State that would have MMA facilitate the distribution of objective information on pharmaceutical products to physicians and other prescribers around the state.  The program, called academic detailing, would be modeled after successful programs in Vermont and Pennsylvania.  It is hoped to have the contract in place by January 2009.

Other highlights from the meeting include the following:

  • The committee established an ad hoc committee on Annual Session to consider a number of issues involving the Annual Meeting including attendance, costs, locations, meeting dates, exhibitors, special society meetings, and CME.  The entire purpose of the Session will be reviewed because of concern expressed as to whether the primary purpose of the meeting is governance or CME.  The committee will be chaired by Jo Linder, M.D.

  • Andrew MacLean, Esq. reviewed current election issues and previewed the issues facing the new Legislature.  The MMA Legislative Committee will meet on Tuesday, November 18th to consider items of legislation the Association may introduce.  State specialty societies are also invited to attend to discuss any items of legislation in which they are interested.

  • President Stephanie Lash, M.D. reviewed the topics to be presented at the Annual Executive Committee retreat in January.   MMA development work, worksite wellness, and a continuation of strategic planning will be the items on the retreat agenda from January 16-18, 2009.

  • In the EVP Report, Gordon Smith announced that a former employee, Mo Elwell would be returning to the staff to support the Association's legislative activities, including the Doctor of the Day, the Legislative Committee, and the Physicians' Day at the Legislature.  This legislative support position will be combined with the current duties of the receptionist.  Mo will begin on Nov. 3.

Members also received an update on the Association's activities in support of Health Coverage for Maine, the coalition opposing Question One on the November 4th ballot.

The Committee meets next on Wednesday, December 3rd.  Agendas and minutes of the Committee meetings can be found on the MMA website at www.mainemed.com.

Lewiston-Auburn Bridge Named for Bernard Lown, M.D.

Renowned cardiologist Bernard Lown, M.D. returned to his childhood roots in Lewiston last week to unveil monuments on the South Bridge over the Androscoggin River commemorating the naming of the bridge as the "Bernard Lown Peace Bridge."  Dr. Lown, whose clinic in Brookline, MA continues to attract patients from around the world, is a 1938 graduate of Lewiston High School and a l985 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  The Nobel Peace Prize recognized his co-founding of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Dr. Lown, now 87, moved to Lewiston with his family when he was 14 years of age.  The family had escaped from Lithuania.  After graduating from Lewiston High School, Dr. Lown attended the University of Maine.

Dr. Lown attended the legislative session earlier this year in which the legislation was passed authorizing the new name of the bridge.  MMA staff and legislators had an extended opportunity to talk informally with Dr. Lown and to discuss his thoughts on the current status of the health care system, both in Massachusetts and in the nation.  [return to top]

Update on Quality Counts!

MMA participates in Quality Counts!, a non-profit, statewide organization working collaboratively to improve health care systems and outcomes.  Among its goals are to improve health status, promote consistent delivery of high quality care, improve access to health care, and contain health care costs.

The QC Board met for its monthly Board meeting on October 9th and considered the following items:

  • Was informed by Director Lisa Letourneau, M.D., MPH of the hiring of Katrin (Kathi) Teel of Bangor as Associate Director.  Kathi began work in the position on October 14th;

  • Authorized appointment of a Finance Committee as required by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the Aligning Forces for Quality grant (AF4Q);

  • Reviewed results of the ongoing membership drive;

  • The QC6 Conference will be held on April 17, 2009 and will be entitled, "Raising the Bar:  Crossing the Chasm to Achieve Breakthrough Improvements in Maine;"

  • Heard updates from staff on the Behavioral Integration Metrics Project (MeHAF funded), the Aligning Forces for Quality project, and the Multi-Payer Patient Centered Medical Home Pilot.

The Board will meet next on Wednesday, November 5th from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at MMA. [return to top]

Update on Aligning Forces for Quality Grant

The Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Executive Leadership Team met on October 8th at the MMA offices in Manchester.  The AF4Q program is grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Maine is one of 14 "communities" across the country that received a grant.  AF4Q is a national program designed to help communities improve the quality of the health care they provide for chronic disease in ambulatory settings. Quality Counts! is the organization managing the grant.  Most of the meeting was focused on reviewing a draft of the goals in the three areas of:

  • Performance Measurement and Public Reporting;
  • Quality Improvement;
  • Consumer Engagement.

The Director of the project is Ted Rooney and Marguerite Ridgway is the Administrative Assistant supporting the project. 

The AF4Q Initiative specifically aims to align three key drivers of quality improvement:

  • Performance measurement and public reporting;
  • Capacity to help physicians in the community improve the quality of ambulatory chronic illness care;
  • Consumer engagement.

Participants in the meeting received a copy of the results of a survey of consumers in Maine conducted between April 3 and July 11, 2008.  The survey was carried out as part of an evaluation of the RWJ Foundation AF4Q Initiative and was intended to provide information on the current level of consumer engagement in the state.  Four hundred and fifty surveys were completed in Maine. 

In one question, respondents were asked whether they had, in the past 12 months, seen any information comparing different doctors, hospitals, or health plans?  Thirty-two percent of those surveyed stated that they had seen such information, with twenty percent saying they personally used it in making decisions about doctors. 

The information received through the survey may assist the project in planning and intervention activities.  The Foundation will consider funding a follow-up survey three or four years into the Aligning Forces program in order to provide a pre-post comparison. 



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Wednesday, October 29th Luncheon for MMA Senior Section

On Wednesday, October 29th, the MMA will host our fourth luncheon meeting of the new Senior Section consisting of our retirees and other interested members.  The luncheon will begin at 11:00 am at the MMA offices in the Frank O. Stred Building in Manchester.  Topics include mentoring and the work of the Massachusetts Medical Society Senior Section.

Please call Lisa Martin at 622-3374, ext. 221 if you are planning to attend.  There is no charge. [return to top]

Next First Friday CME Presentation on November 7th: the Move Toward Transparency

The November First Friday CME program at MMA is entitled, "Public Reporting of Physician Data:  the Move Toward Transparency."   The program will be held from 9:00 am to noon on Friday morning, November 7th at the offices of the Maine Medical Association in Manchester.  The experienced faculty includes Douglas W. Libby, R.Ph., Executive Director of the Maine Health Management Coalition, D. Joshua Cutler, M.D., Director of the Maine Quality Forum, and Andrew MacLean, Esq., Deputy EVP of the MMA.

Maine is a data-rich state, having both an all-payor claims data base and a hospital discharge database.  Physician-identifiable data now can be released under certain circumstances.  Physicians and practice managers will benefit from this educational program that will focus on the types of data likely to be released and how patients are likely to react to the data.

With employers, the public, and consumers all asking for more transparency and accountability in the health care system, physicians and group practices will benefit from learning of the current efforts going on in Maine that address these trends.

A registration fee of $60 covers the course materials and breakfast.  Registration is available on the MMA website at www.mainemed.com or by calling 622-3374, ext. 219. [return to top]

Maine Cancer Consortium Meeting, November 18th

You are cordially invited to the 2008 Maine Cancer Consortium Annual Meeting on November 18th, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm at the Maple Hill Farm in Hallowell, Maine.  At this year's meeting, we will review our progress in implementing the Maine Cancer Plan.  The keynote will be given by Tom Kean, MPH, and Executive Director of C-Change, a national organization dedicated to a comprehensive and collaborative approach to eliminating cancer.   We will also hear from some key partners and leaders in the state who are addressing Colorectal, Breast, Lung, and Prostate cancers.

Please find the agenda and registration form attached.  If you are interested in attending the meeting please fax or email your registration form to Cynthia Magnuson at fax 207-725-6680 or Cynthia.magnuson@cancer.org.

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Martin's Point Health Care Launches "Innovators Series," November 6

Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin's Point Health Care, cordially invites you to attend the inaugural event of the Martin's Point Innovators Series.

The  guest presenter will be Dr. Charles "Chuck" Kilo, on Thursday, November 6th at 5:00 pm in the ballroom of the Eastland Park Hotel, in Portland.  Dr. Kilo will speak on his experience in building one of the nation's first Medical Home practices (GreenField Health) in Portland, Oregon and his pioneering efforts to develop alternative visit types and leverage payors to support new modes of care delivery.

The Martin's Point Innovators Series presents nationally-recognized leaders and innovators in the delivery and financing of health care to health care providers and policy leaders in Maine and New Hampshire.  The University of New England is accredited by the Maine Medical Association's Committee on CME and by the American Osteopathic Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  UNE and designated this activity for .5 AOA Category 2A and .5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits.

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact ina.levasseur@martinspoint.org or 207-253-6170 by October 22nd.  Dinner will be provided.  Please indicate any dietary restrictions. [return to top]

Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS) Seeks Medical Board Physicians

"The MainePERS is seeking three consulting physicians to join our Medical Board.  We are particularly interested in physicians with certifications in internal medicine, orthopaedics and neurology.  MainePERS administers a disability retirement program for eligible members.  The primary purpose of the MainePERS Medical Board is to review medical records of adults who are applying for disability benefits, and to advise the System on the types and status of the applicant’s conditions.  A team of Specialists, who coordinate the administrative case management aspects of the program, assists the Medical Board.  The Medical Board consists of retired, semi-retired and active practice physicians representing internal medicine, psychiatry, cardiology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, neurology and occupational medicine.

Consulting physicians receive records a week in advance for review and analysis.  Medical Board meetings are scheduled on Thursdays at MainePERS Augusta office.  Reimbursement on an hourly basis includes case review, travel and board attendance time.

Physicians interested in exploring this opportunity are encouraged to contact MainePERS directly:
Marlene McMullen-Pelsor
46 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0046
207 512-3100
800 451-9800" [return to top]

SAVE THE DATE: MMA Legislative Committee Schedules Organizational Meeting for November 18th

Samuel P. Solish, M.D. and Lisa D. Ryan, D.O., chair and vice chair of the MMA Legislative Committee, invite Legislative Committee members, specialty society legislative liaisons and officers, and any interested member to the Committee's organizational meeting for the 124th Maine Legislature on Tuesday, November 18th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the MMA office in Manchester.  The agenda for this meeting will include:

  • a review of election results and the composition of the 124th Maine Legislature;
  • an overview of the Legislative Committee's process for the coming session;
  • a discussion of the MMA's legislative agenda for the 124th Maine Legislature;
  • a discussion of specialty society legislative priorities; and
  • a briefing on pharmacists' provision of vaccinations by pharmacy and pharmacist representatives with discussion to follow.

Maine medical specialty societies are strongly encouraged to send a representative to this important meeting.  Dinner will be available at 6 p.m.  Please RSVP to Andrew MacLean, Deputy EVP, at amaclean@mainemed.com or 622-3374, ext. 214.

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FDA Announces New Drug Safety Initiative Including New Web Page

The federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will launch a new program to promote safe drug use in January 2009.  The objectives of this "safe use initiative" are to develop a cutting-edge pharmacovigilance system for evaluating drug performance using electronic health data and to collaborate with stakeholders to find steps to ensure that drugs are used appropriately in a manner that minimizes medical errors and manages risks aggressively.  An element of the new initiative is a new web site required by the FDA Amendments Act of 2007.

The web page will provide links to information in the following areas:

  • drug labeling, including patient labeling, professional labeling, and patient package inserts;
  • a searchable database of post-market studies that are required from, or agreed to by, drug companies to provide FDA with additional information about a drug's safety, efficacy, or optimal use;
  • drugs that have a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) to ensure that their benefits outweigh their risks;
  • clinicaltrials.gov, a searchable database of clinical trials, including information about each trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and useful phone numbers;
  • drug-specific safety information, including safety sheets with the latest information about the drug as well as related FDA press announcements, fact sheets, and drug safety podcasts;
  • quarterly reports that list certain drugs that are being evaluated for potential safety issues, based on a review of information in FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS);
  • warning letters, import alerts, recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts;
  • regulations and guidance documents;
  • consumer information about using medications safely and disposing of unused medicines;
  • instructions on how to report problems to FDA through its MedWatch program;
  • consumer articles on drug safety; and
  • FDA's response to the Institute of Medicine's 2006 report on the future of drug safety.

You can find the new web page at:  http://www.fda.gov/cder/drugSafety.htm. [return to top]

AMA & Other National Health Care Groups Urge Delay of ICD-10 Implementation

On August 22, 2008, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 by October 1, 2011.  The American Medical Association (AMA) will be submitting comments to DHHS by the October 21, 2008 comment deadline expressing concern that the October 1, 2011 proposed compliance deadline will not allow sufficient time for a smooth transition.  The AMA will urge DHHS to:

  • Provide at least 36 months to adopt and implement 5010 from the date of publication of the 5010 final rule to accommodate all levels of testing; and
  • Require adoption of ICD-10 no sooner than 60 months following publication of the 5010 final rule and after 5010 industry readiness levels have reached at least 95%.

The ICD-9 has 17,000 procedure and diagnosis codes while the ICD-10 has 155,000 codes.  The transition to more detailed coding will enhance various health care quality improvement initiatives, but will increase the administrative burden on the health care system, at least initially.  A study by Nachimson Advisors commissioned by the AMA and other health care organizations released on October 14th forecasts substantial costs for physicians in making this transition.  The total estimated cost for a 10-physician practice to make the switch is more than $285,000.  For a 3-physician practice, the cost estimate is $83,290.  The study found that the transition could cost a large practice of 100 physicians more than $2.7 million.  

The MMA has signed on to the AMA letter and has sent letters of concern to Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.  [return to top]

For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.mainemed.com l ©2003, Maine Medical Association