American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Private Practice Support Drives Agenda at AMA HOD

AMA's November 2020 House of Delegates (HOD) meeting took place November 13-17 in a virtual format. Among the more than 475 attendees were ASPS members: Drs. Bob Basu, Greg Borah, Ed Cabbabe, Kevin Chu, Stephen Coccaro, Mary Ann Contogiannis, Maristella Evangelista, Greg Evans, John Fagg, Sean Figy, Bob Havlik, Lynn Jeffers, Aaron Kearney, Mark Komorowski, Sean Li, Michelle Manahan, Beth Peterson, Alan Pillersdorf, Gary Price, Danielle Rochlin, Nick Vedder and Steven Williams.

While the focus of the interim meeting is typically on advocacy and legislation, the agenda for the November 2020 HOD meeting centered on key initiatives designed to support private practices.

A new section for private practice physicians

Virtually every physician has felt the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps none more than those working in private practice, most of whom have seen significant decreases in patient volume. In addition, their practice alone must cover the added expense of PPE and other supplies in order to comply with new COVID-19-related rules and requirements.

At the November 2020 meeting, AMA Special Meeting delegates voted to make the AMA Private Practice Physicians Congress a formal section. The newly minted AMA Private Practice Physicians Section will provide a voice for private practice physicians and offer them the ability to shape AMA policy, as well as increase their knowledge and skills through connection with their peers.

In an AMA Council on Long Range Planning and Development report adopted by the delegates, the section is defined as a forum for "networking, mentoring, advocacy, educational activities and leadership development." The report further states that the section will be "dedicated to advocacy on private practice physician policy issues, provide leadership development and educational opportunities for medical students and young physicians, and monitor trends and issues that affect private practice."

Preventing discrimination against private practitioners in hospital referrals

Following concerns raised in the House of Delegates regarding hospital-physician relationships and hospitals giving preference to their employed physicians to the detriment of private practice physicians and patient-physician relationships, the AMA House of Delegates adopted new policy at the November 2020 HOD meeting to:

  • Actively oppose policies that limit a physician's access to hospital services based on the number and type of referrals made, the number of procedures performed, the use of any and all hospital services, or employment affiliation.
  • Recognize that physician onboarding, credentialing and peer review should not be tied in a discriminatory manner to hospital employment status.

Ensuring all credentialed physicians are included in directories and find-a-physician features

Recent incidences of independent practice physicians with privileges at a hospital or health facility being excluded from their organizations' online find-a-doctor search functions highlighted the need for policy directing that all credentialed physicians are to be included in health plan directories.

To promote the availability of credentialed and practicing physicians in any setting, the House of Delegates directed the AMA to:

  • Work with relevant stakeholders to encourage decision-makers at all appropriate levels that all credentialed physicians should be included in health care organizations' website listings and search functions in a fair, equal and unbiased fashion.
  • Support efforts to ensure that physicians, through their medical staffs, are able to provide input on what information is published.
  • Work with relevant stakeholders to encourage health care organizations to notify credentialed physicians when a website is about to be changed if there is reason to believe that such a change could affect how physicians are listed or if they are listed at all.
  • Through the Organized Medical Staff Section, produce and promote educational materials, trainings and any other relevant components to help physicians advocate for their own inclusion on facilities' websites and search functions.

To read more about the November 2020 HOD meeting, visit the AMA website.