NEW: Use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word to "Fix What's Wrong; Keep What's Good."
Do you want to influence the message your patients receive on health system reform? You can. All you have to do is use your waiting room and exam room walls.
Physicians often overlook one of the best venues available to educate patients - waiting rooms and exam rooms. Patients wait an average of 20.2 minutes to see their doctors - this figure is constant across all specialties. They have little to do but read information available in the waiting room and exam room. Research published in the British Journal of General Practice (December 1994;44(389):583-585) indicates that almost 80 percent of patients said they read and remembered the subject of a poster and educational materials in the physician waiting room.
The best tool available to physicians to ensure patients receive accurate messages about their profession is to post items in waiting and exam rooms.
TMA has launched a new public awareness campaign to educate patients about health system reform. The campaign, Me and My Doctor: We Know Best , includes three posters sent to physicians' offices that ask Congress to fix what's wrong with our health care system and keep what's good. We encourage you to post these colorful new posters in your office. September's Texas Medicine magazine includes two more "Me and My Doctor" posters. To order more of these and other campaign materials, go to the TMA Web site or call the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955.
TMA's patient advocacy Web site - www.meandmydoctor.com - informs patients of many of the important issues. Patients increasingly use the Internet to obtain medical information and may plan to change their health behavior based on that information ( The Journal of Family Practice . 1998;48(2):123-127.) The Web site also gives patients an easy way to take action by sending their legislators an action alert. And it allows patients to share their thoughts and concerns with TMA or to write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper. The latest in social media tools, like a Facebook Cause campaign and a Twitter petition, are included.
TMA and county medical societies also are holding a statewide series of health care reform meetings called " House Calls ," two-hour public sessions during which physicians listen to their patients' concerns about the health care system. These listening sessions - so different from the shouting match town hall meetings we've seen across the country - are eliciting positive news media coverage on the issues and on how physicians work closely with patients, for patients.
TMA launched the Me and My Doctor: We Know Best campaign because it believes President Obama and Congress must slow down and get health system reform right.
"The most important people in the national health care debate are sitting in your exam room right now," said TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD. "Working together, physicians and patients need to make sure Congress and the president fix what's wrong with our health care system and keep what's good."
We still have a long way to go in what the folks in Washington call "the legislative process." You need to stay in touch with your senators and representative. TMA will provide up-to-the-minute action alerts that allow physicians to send the right message to Congress with ease.
"I truly believe this debate will be the defining moment for this generation of American physicians. The outcome could be terribly good … or just plain terrible," Dr. Fleming said. "Please join with your patients and your colleagues in TMA in this critical engagement. Remember, 'We and Our Patients, We Know Best.'"
Dr. Fleming said thus far only one big health care bill is moving in Congress: HR 3200 in the House of Representatives. "But the Senate will have its own bill. And there will be amendments and negotiations and compromises. TMA will continue to watch all of this carefully," he said.
Here's what TMA is telling the Texas congressional delegation about HR 3200:
Real Medicare Financing Reform
HR 3200 takes some important steps. It stops the 21.5-percent cut in physicians' Medicare payments scheduled for next year and fills a huge deficit in the Medicare financing budget. But the bill does not do away with the fatally flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which means the cuts would start coming right back. TMA wants Congress to replace the SGR formula with a rational Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula .
Health Insurance Reform
TMA supports those parts of HR 3200 that outlaw coverage denials for preexisting conditions, control premium increases, require health plans to demonstrate they are providing access to an adequate network of physicians, and address medical loss ratios. But that doesn't go far enough. Congress needs to hold health insurance companies accountable to the promises they make for the premium dollars they receive.
National Tort Reform
All Americans deserve the benefits Texas has enjoyed since the passage of our 2003 health care liability reforms. HR 3200 has no significant liability reforms, and no promise that it would protect strong state laws like we have in Texas.
Public Plan Protections
No one knows how the "public option insurance plan" would really work. TMA insists that any new public plan:
- Give individual physicians the choice of whether to participate;
- Give physicians and patients the choice of privately contracting outside of the system; and
- Base physician payments on negotiated market rates, not Medicare rates.
Patient Choice and Physician Ownership
HR 3200 imposes stark limitations on physician ownership of hospitals and other health care facilities. TMA believes that the innovation and excellent patient care that has come from such leading, physician-owned institutions as the Mayo Clinic and Scott & White Clinic are exactly what Congress needs to promote now.
Action , Sept. 1, 2009