Page 6 - Volume 69, Number 4
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President’s Message
By Andrew R. Barnosky, DO, MPH, FACP
In Search of Relevance and “Value Proposition”
Ihad my first exposure to the role of
a county medical society when I
began medical practice in the early
nineteen eighties. It was a time in
medicine before relative value units,
diagnosis related groups, health
maintenance organizations, the
electronic health record, and
countless other developments that
have accompanied and been part of
the social and economic transforma-
tions of American medicine. There
were benefits and burdens to being a
physician in those days just as there
are today, and whether earlier times
were “better” than present times will always be in the eye of the beholder. My recollection is that the county medical society, and organized medicine in general, was more relevant then. I believe that relevance is a key concept in organized medicine. Just as “character is destiny” in the life of an individual, relevance is destiny in the life of any organization. I believe that the future of our county medical society is inextricably bound up in the degree to which we can grow in relevance and bring value to the practicing physicians in Washtenaw County. Early in my career, the county medical society provided a strong foundation for the development of a feeling of community amongst physicians. It was an era when independent solo or group practice was dominant in the profession, and organized medicine at the county, state and national level offered physicians a common venue to unify and engage with each other to achieve common goals. Medical societies catered to physician interests that were outside the scope of the day-to-day running
of an independent practice and provided group benefits that were difficult for individuals to get.
This role of organized medicine in the lives of physicians a generation ago has changed, as we are all aware. Increasingly, physicians are organizationally employed rather than self-employed. This independent solo practice or small physician group is no longer the dominant form of professional practice. Physicians are now more often members of large health systems,
of multi-specialty physician organizations, of large faculty practice groups in academic organizations in
medical schools, or of a variety of other models. While the pros and cons of these organizations and employment arrangements may vary greatly depending on who is asked, it does seem that this new dominant model of professional practice offers physicians the opportunities for community, networking and collegiality within the work place that was once served by the medical society. As this sense of community grows in the work place, the need of physicians to seek community outside of it diminishes. As a physician
at the Michigan Medicine, I reap the benefits of being associated with over two thousand colleagues. It’s a wonderful community and I feel privileged to be a part of it. And because of it I understand why some physi- cians, who are members of physician communities of any size, may feel less of a need to seek the additional benefits that a state or local county chapter of organized medicine might offer. It is understandable why some physicians feel the relevance and value of organized medicine has diminished and this translates into shrinking membership of county, state and national medical societies. The Washtenaw County Medical Society (WCMS) has not been immune to the trend
of shrinking membership and diminished revenue. The physicians who remain active in WCMS see the value that organized medicine can play in health care
policy and legislation, and its potential impact on public health and the profession of medicine. With a mission
of professional and collegial support for physicians and public health activism and advocacy, WCMS physicians continue to see the good that can be done by organized medicine. And yet we remain challenged in growing our membership, something which is critical to our long term survival and success. Like our national, state and other county organized medical societies, we are stable today yet see a future where becoming of a candle in the wind is a distinct possibility. The future of organized medicine at all levels is threatened. The relevance, which we see as members, is not appreciated by the largest segment of our profession. Our destiny lies in
6 Washtenaw County Medical Society BULLETIN OCTOBER / NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017

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