LAS VEGAS—The value of emergency medicine is pretty simple to Andrew Sama, MD, FACEP, chief executive officer of Progressive Emergency Physicians of Uniondale, New York.
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It’s people. To be more specific, it’s you.
“I want to thank all of you for what you do every day,” the ACEP Past President said at the Colin C. Rorrie Jr. Lecture on health policy. “The advanced-practice providers and nurses, the staff, EMS providers. You guys are really creating the value of emergency medicine….it’s what allows the College and its leaders to take our message to Washington and elsewhere.”
And the message is that emergency physicians are at the crux of the American health care system. Some 150 million patient visits a year show that. But as care becomes more defined by the equation that value is quality divided by cost, it’s up to the specialty to define what value is, Dr. Sama said.
“I can tell you one thing; the thing that worries me most is that the…focus on the equation is price and cost and not quality and value,” he said.
Emergency physicians need to shape the conversation as payment models change, and patient and payer mixes evolve. Moving forward, that means meeting the needs and filling the wants of the patients who drive that system, said presenter and ACEP Board of Directors member James Augustine, MD, FACEP.
“We have built a specialty and a practice in an emergency-care system around patients perceptions and needs,” he said. “We have built a system that functions in a very effective way as a safety net…when you need anything there’s a place to go where the lights are always on. It’s called the emergency department.”
And while the national focus on how health care should be administered—over time it has drifted from hospital-based to outpatient services to community-based—emergency physicians must be the ones to efficiently move patients around the system, he said.
“Our future is unscheduled care and we need to recognize that as we put our value argument together into the future,” Dr. Augustine said. “This is right care, right place, right time, right equipment, right people, at the right cost. Those are all the ‘rights’ that will have to go together to ensure our future.”
Course co-presenter John Holstein, director of business development for Zotec Partners of Carmel, Indiana, which provides revenue cycle and practice-management services, said he’s confident that future is just fine.
“You are so important to the health care system in this country,” he said, later adding, “You are the healing edge of the American health system today.”