Each year brings new challenges for our specialty to face and a new President to lead the charge. Jay A. Kaplan, MD, FACEP, who took over as ACEP President in October, recently shared his views on a few of those challenges with ACEP Now Medical Editor-in-Chief Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP. Here are some excerpts from their conversation.
KK: What do you think the biggest challenges facing emergency physicians are?
JK: I think the biggest challenge for emergency physicians, and for ACEP as well, includes continuing to show our value both to our patients and to those who pay for the care, the federal government and insurers. We continue to be labeled as the most expensive place to receive care. It is very clear that the major driver of health reform is not really quality—it’s cost. I find it very interesting that what used to be called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, is now being called the Affordable Care Act. The greatest challenge is to give great care to our patients with the limited resources that we have. We are going to continue to be asked to do more with less.
KK: Congratulations on Emergency Medicine Wellness Week. What additional goals do you have for your presidency?
JK: Emergency physicians lead all specialties in terms of burnout. Burnout can be characterized as a loss of work fulfillment, emotional exhaustion, and a sense of disconnection or depersonalization. We have to continue to focus on that and helping physicians be more healthy. Wellness isn’t a one-week thing; it’s a yearlong thing.
Fair reimbursement. There was a bill in Congress and there are bills in multiple states that talk about “surprise billing.” Insurance companies have been fairly effective in portraying physicians as greedy doctors, predatory billers, and that we are sending bills to patients over and above what the insurance company is willing to pay. Unfortunately, the concept of fair payment doesn’t play well with regulators and legislatures because they think that doctors are already well paid. I think that we have to stop talking about surprise billing. We have to start talking about surprise coverage. As one insurance VP said at one of the American Medical Association meetings I recently attended, “The first and only thing which patients look at is the affordability of the premium.” Insurance companies have hoodwinked patients by offering them “affordable premiums” but raising their deductibles. One of my top goals is to go after the insurance companies and portray them as more interested in profits than they are in patients.