On September 14, 2018, we kicked off our fall Leaders Connect Breakfast series with “everything you wanted to know about emergency medicine, but were too afraid to ask”. We were fortunate to have a panel of veteran emergency physicians give us insight into their fast paced, rapidly evolving field, and answer our questions about, among other things:
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on emergency medicine
- Physician burnout and disillusionment
- Opaque billing process
- Aging population challenges
- Opioid epidemic
- Patient mental health issues
- How doctors cope with work related tragedies and balance their personal life
Our panelists from Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital (from left to right in the video): Dr. Lee Benjamin, Director of Pediatric Emergency Center Clinical Operations; Dr. Keenan Bora, National Co-Chair of Quality for Emergency Medicine, Envision Physician Services
Medical Toxicologist, Michigan Regional Poison Control Center; Dr. Stefanie Simmons, Director of Patient Experience and Employee Engagement; and Dr. Rob McCurdy, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Chief of Staff and Regional Medical Director for Emergency Physicians Management Group (EPMG).
Dr. McCurdy summed up the Q&A by saying, “the key point is for us is to continue to engage people so that there is a better understanding of what we do as emergency providers and also an opportunity for us to learn what the community needs and how best to serve”.
Dr. Benjamin emphasizes that the challenges in emergency medicine create an opportunity to improve the system for patients, communities, providers, and payers. He goes on to say that “engagement from all stakeholders will be necessary to meet the demand for changes in health care”.
Realizing that one of the great criticisms of medicine is that patients don’t feel heard or listened to by the (often times too busy) physician, Dr. Simmons’ role is to help providers develop their own set of resources to increase their resilience, leaving them with something to give to their patients at the bedside. She is a firm believer that, “you can’t give what you don’t have”. Providers see a lot of bad things in the workplace and it is hard to debrief or leave it at work and then go attend to a personal life. She focuses on helping providers “feed the fire”, which is their passion to care for patients, without letting the fire totally consume them in the process. It is a delicate balance for most providers.
Dr. Bora told us that often emergency providers are on the front lines of the opioid crisis especially when it comes to the homeless population. They often will know what drugs are a danger on the streets before the police authorities do. He recommends reading the book Dreamland, by Sam Quinones, to gain a better understanding of the roots of the opioid epidemic in the US. This national problem continues to be brought up to doctors with the expectation that they need to reduce the number of prescriptions they write for pain medication. It is often perceived that the brunt of the blame is put on physicians for prescribing opiates. According to Dr. Bora, “that is 100% not the issue in its entirety.” Physicians are owning their role in decreasing opiate dependence and overdose. Providers are decreasing their prescriptions within reason. They are now capable of running a query to survey for abuse by the patient who seeks prescriptions from more than one provider. Physicians are having conversations with patients about why they are not prescribing opiates, and the emergency departments have kits of naloxone, the reversal agent to an opioid overdose, that they can give to the overdose patient or the to the family members for the patient who has a history of overdose.
Many audience members shared their passions related to the topic of health care. Jen Baird, CEO of Fifth Eye Inc., talked about the use of technology and artificial intelligence using a sophisticated analytic to predict patient deterioration more efficiently than the current use of monitoring a patient’s vital signs. Joe Carney shared the history of the Big Red Barrel Project, which, in an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, heroin use, and maintain a healthy environment, has set up permanent prescription drug collection units for community use. If you would like to learn more, or have Joe speak at one of your events, email him at email@example.com.
This was a fantastic kick-off event with a lot of audience interaction. These doctors offered to answer any additional questions from the audience if they would submit their questions to me via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next Leaders Connect Breakfast will be on October 5th from 7 am – 9 am at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, with guest speaker Thomas Zurbuchen from NASA.