We need to educate and engage patients, economists, regulators, the media, and others to appreciate the care we provide so that they advocate and change the perception that emergency medicine is valuable and not expensive and unnecessary.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 34 – No 08 – August 2015
Robert E. O’Connor, MD, MPH, FACEP (Virginia)
Current Professional Positions: professor and chair, physician-in-chief, department of emergency medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville; emergency physician, UVA Culpeper Hospital, Culpeper, Virginia
Internships and Residency: emergency medicine residency, Medical Center of Delaware
Medical Degree: MD, Medical College of Pennsylvania (1982)
Candidate Question Response
Mission Statement: The American College of Emergency Physicians promotes the highest quality of emergency care and is the leading advocate for emergency physicians, their patients, and the public.
I find the ACEP mission statement to be both inspirational and aspirational. I use the statement to guide my professional activities, both personally and on behalf of ACEP, and to identify and execute priorities that advance the field. My professional priorities in emergency medicine, as a physician, have been to provide the highest quality patient care that I am capable of and to work, as a leader, toward achieving a practice environment that facilitates the most efficient and effective patient care. Using these guiding principles, I am convinced that the two top issues facing ACEP members today are access to care and patient safety.
Emergency medicine is recognized by the public as a valued and essential public service, yet access to emergency care is being threatened. Financial barriers are emerging and include high co-payments, high deductibles, restrictive rules regarding out-of-network care, and lack of adequate health care coverage for all patients. Patients do not choose where and when they will need our services and should not face financial penalties for seeking emergency care. Likewise, emergency physicians do not choose which patients they will see on any given day and, furthermore, are required by EMTALA to medically screen all patients. Fair payment is one of the key drivers for access to care by allowing for staffing with board-certified emergency physicians, in adequate numbers, to provide timely high-quality care.
Fair payment is one of the most pressing issues facing emergency physicians in protecting patient access to care. ACEP has the opportunity to use strategies such as the Clinical Emergency Data Registry (CEDR) and other data sources to demonstrate the value of emergency care and justify fair payment. ACEP can also promote how to use these data to quantify how restricted access to care negatively impacts patients, most notably for patients with behavioral health needs and admitted patients who sit for hours in the ED waiting for an inpatient bed, and to suggest possible solutions.