Ten Resolutions for 2016 - Do You Agree?

By HL Admin posted 07-04-2016 18:51


January 2016

Melissa Weakland MD

IMP Board President

We keep a detailed messy old fashioned paper calendar tracking the events and activities of me, my husband and our two boys.  I threw it out today and hung our new “Beautiful Places in the World” 2016 still blank replacement.  I do this each year with mixed emotions as it feels odd to say goodbye to such an eventful year.   And the blank slate for the year to come is both exciting and scary. 

I became board President of IMP this past fall.   For the last three months I’ve been learning IMP past and working to help create IMP future.   Our organization exists to support each of us in our small independent practices.   And in order for our clinics to thrive, the organization must both support the daily task of running our businesses and be active in the greater healthcare system.

It is a daunting task interfacing with the greater health care system, and even more daunting to believe we can make a difference.  I chuckle sardonically as I write that.  I can barely keep my head above water with the daily work needed for good medicine.  Where is there time and energy to do more?  And will we ever truly have an impact?   But I have eternal hope as I don’t know the future.  And I know that the blank slate of 2016 and beyond can play out it many ways, and that only through action will change happen.   While most recent health care system trends are discouraging, the past informs, but does not predict the future.  As physicians we know this well with every patient who doesn’t present as a “textbook” case.

These resolutions are my hope of what we might do, and how we might change the healthcare system to better reflect why we all came to medicine.   It is both my list and a foundation for our organizational work for 2016.   And while it speaks loudly to me, I wonder—does it for you?  

  1. SPEAK FROM OUR COMMON AREAS        Our diversity is our strength but can also be our undoing.  We have built clinics that are just right: right for you and right for your community.  As such we are diverse in our payment models and clinical structures.  And paradoxically, this diversity is how we are alike.  Each of our clinics is uniquely designed around the specific needs of the providers, the patients and the community.  Our one size is that one size doesn’t fit all.  We can maximize our strengths, and not dwell on our differences.  We are small and independent.  We are committed to the patient physician relationship. We are nimble, innovative and able to adapt.

  2. SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE          We are all strong individuals—we’re doctors and we work independently.  Once again the irony of life strikes.  We, this group of independents,  need to set aside some of our strong beliefs in order to speak with an organizational voice instead of our individual voices.  Because the forces we’re up against are big, and except for that one time, the Davids haven't had the best track record versus Goliath.  I’m guessing each of you would say you deliver exactly the care that your patients want and need exactly when they want and need it.  This is our one voice.  And if you haven't looked, it’s our mission statement. 

  3. SPEAK UP.  WE HAVE SOMETHING THAT WORKS       And the onus is on us to show it.  No one is going to make the system better for us.  No one is going to find the solution without us.   And as time has shown, it can get worse.  So we have to define what we do and we have to prove we cost effectively deliver quality care.  And we have to promote that which nourishes us and our patients and is thus unique.

  4. MOVE OFFENSIVELY—NOT DEFENSIVELY       We don’t need to fit into their box.  We may never move the mountain.  But we can bring the mountain to us.  We can show what works. We can offer OUR solutions that aren’t just theoretical, since we’re doing them every day.  And we can ask for support for what we know to be a sustainable model for providers, patients and the greater health care system.

  5. ORGANIZE        We’re an organization which is more than a group of individuals.   We are stronger together than apart.  We have a new mission statement: “We collaborate to invent, support and implement innovations that help medical practices committed to relationship-based care thrive because we believe that the strength of the patient-provider relationship is the single biggest determinant of care outcomes.”  It’s still a work in progress but I wonder if anyone’s read it.   We continue to build our new website and I wonder if anyone notices the improvements.

  6. MOBILIZE         We’re out there.  Forty percent of all practices are still small independents.  Around any meeting table however we are sadly underrepresented.  Patients love what we provide, but they don’t know how to find us.  As we mobilize, we can be seen.

  7. PRACTICAL ACTIONABLE PLAN        The board of directors has been working hard.  We soon will have agreement on the details of our next steps.  Watch for it in our newsletter and on our website.  Goals we are working toward include a more robust virtual presence, improved business tools and educational opportunities for small independents, IMPcamp and other in person meetings, tools to help mobilize and organize including internal quality measures, and finally funding and staffing to do much of the work.

  8. TRANSPARENCY         We hope to continue making the work of the organization more transparent and clear.  We are many and thus we all need to see and understand.

  9. COMMUNICATION        We hope to foster improved communication both virtually and in person.  Again, we are many and we need clear paths of easy communication.

  10.   ACTION, NOT PERFECTION      We can learn from each step we take, but steps we must take.  We like to discuss and we like to reach agreement.  But if we don’t act we will miss the chance.  Our numbers are fading and time will not wait for us.  So we will continue to do our best and a work in progress is better than no work at all.

So there it is, my list for the year.  I’m relatively new to the group but this organization is my organization.  It has great people who do great work.  I am continually inspired.  And I wonder for you, do you say this is “my” organization?  Or does it feel distant and remote, something other people are doing?  My hope is by the end of 2016 we all see this as our organization.

I welcome all feedback and comments.