Episode #8 May 31, 2020
Many thanks to Robert McLean, Past-President of the American College of Physicians, and a practicing rheumatologist, for joining me on “The Art of Medicine with Dr. Andrew Wilner.”
Dr. McLean explained the active role the ACP has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to support physicians and direct public policy. The ACP has made recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding reimbursement of phone visits and decreasing prior authorization requirements. It has contacted Congress regarding stimulus funding. The ACP has communicated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with concerns about drug shortages. The ACP has supported social distancing and recommended that physicians practice remotely as much as possible. The ACP did not endorse President Trump’s withdrawal of funding the World Health Organization (WHO).
The ACP website is the second most searched COVID information source after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and includes, “The Physician’s Guide to COVID,” which is updated regularly.
We discussed the remarkable dedication that so many physicians and other healthcare providers have demonstrated during this crisis, putting themselves at risk with less than adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Thousands of retired physicians have volunteered.
Dr. McLean explained how the concept of “putting the patient first” does not stem from the Hippocratic Oath. Instead, physicians put patients first because they have an internal drive to do the right thing. The ACP has emphasized that doctors have the right to speak out regarding unsafe working conditions.
Dr. McLean observed that at his institution, physicians 65 and older, considered to be in a high-risk group for COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, are not expected to see patients face-to-face, but rather conduct patient visits remotely.
We discussed whether some of the recent regulatory changes, such as removing state-to-state licensing restrictions from telemedicine and providing reimbursement for telephone visits might endure after the pandemic. We broached the disturbing news of physician pay cuts while these same doctors risk their lives on the front lines.
Dr. McLean concluded by discussing his passion for physician advocacy, which has the potential to help patients on a national level. Dr. McLean can be reached at www.acponline.org.