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Physician Regulatory Relief: Breaking the Red Tape to Improve Patient Care

debGuest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Mount Kismo Medical Group
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York

We the people of the USA deserve better from our health care system. Whether one is a patient, physician, nurse, or another part of our medical community, the system has failed. This should not be considered a partisan issue, all sides have contributed in some way to the mess, and few have shown willingness to step outside narrowly defined definitions to seek meaningful solutions. Of particular note, the core value of the healing relationship between patients and their chosen physicians has been relentlessly invaded by federal, state and local regulations. As neurosurgeons, often taking care of some of the most critically ill patients, we often feel the excessive burden of mandates that contribute little or nothing to quality or value for our patients and their loved ones. Listed below are just a few examples:

  • Electronic medical records (EMR) — also known as electronic health records (EHR) — have failed miserably and are not designed for efficient physician use, are not interoperable across physician practices, hospitals and health care systems, and too often get in the middle physicians and patients;
  • Maintenance of Certification (MOC), intended to encourage lifelong learning and quality patient care, has become — for some specialties — a profit-driven, expensive and cumbersome system with little-proven gain;
  • FDA approval of new life-saving medications and devices is fraught with delays and burdensome administrative requirements;
  • Prior authorization for tests, procedures and surgeries has become a failed system on every level for physicians and patients, allowing insurance companies to delay and deny care, while at the same time reap extra profits;
  • Quality reporting — in various iterations for hospitals and physicians — has failed to demonstrate many benefits and improved patient outcomes and physicians continue to be penalized under flawed quality improvement systems; and
  • Multiple credentialing, licensing, and certification is time-consuming and burdensome and should not be so in today’s world of electronic information.

Throughout the coming weeks, Neurosurgery Blog will once again shine a laser spotlight on a single issue, Physician Regulatory Relief:  Breaking the Red Tape to Improve Patient Care. Our goal is not just to identify and relate burdensome regulations, but to offer real solutions that will address the issues and problems that prompted the mandates. To this end, we seek to be highly constructive as we explore this critical topic and we encourage you to join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #RegRelief.


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