What Drives Me?
Ensuring all patients enjoy the same kind of care my father received
My father’s primary care physician was ahead of his time. He was affiliated with a large academic health system but practiced in his own office with a small staff. He did things his own way “in spite of” the system: when my father traveled, this doctor would arrange for lab tests and imaging to be done elsewhere (sometimes even in other countries) and would call or email my father to follow up. This physician never was paid for all the extra time he spent on my father, or on all the paperwork he had to fill out when my father was in an HMO plan.
When my husband needed emergency surgery while traveling overseas last year, I saw the flip side – sympathetic physicians who had no autonomy or authority to authorize the right medication much less the procedure. It took an American surgeon overriding the transfer center and liability concerns to bring my husband home for the medical care he needed.
"Dr. Rege has impressed me with her intelligence, common sense, and leadership on socioeconomic issues. We need physician leaders like her on our AMA CMS during this period of major transformation of healthcare reimbursement."
Reducing the “hassle factor” and administrative burdens plaguing medicine
Transparency, interoperability of electronic health records (EHR) and consistent forms and metrics are crucial to stopping the metastasizing hassle factors adding to physician burn-out and discontent. It’s one thing to require us to use EHR, but what good are these systems if they can’t – or won’t – talk to each other? They become another barrier to providing great patient care and add another layer to our overflowing inboxes. We confronted this issue head-on in my community, where I successfully led a physician task force that brought three different health systems to collaborate on interoperability issues for the benefit of all of our patients.
"I have known Dr. Rege since I served on a Board with her in 2005. She is a well-respected physician and leader within our community involved in medical and non-medical projects like the County Medical Society, Domestic Violence, and also mentors young students in our Boys and Girls Club."
Guaranteeing physicians a choice of practice setting where they will thrive
We stand at the precipice of unprecedented change in our profession. The way medical care is delivered and paid for is being reshaped. Meanwhile, practicing physicians on both ends of the career spectrum are under greater stress than ever before.
Younger doctors wonder whether they will be able to balance their professional and their personal lives at a time when the administrative burdens of care grow heavier by the day. Saddled with astronomical debt from their medical education, they entered our profession with altruistic goals and ideals. They need to experience the pure satisfaction that comes from the physician-patient relationship which helps sustain each of us when the threat of burn-out creeps close.
Meanwhile, our older experienced physicians are hanging on for dear life while the pressure to become employed or shutter their small practices tightens like a vise. “Value-based care” has to afford us room to practice to our values. A generation of great diagnosticians is readying for retirement because the hassle factor is driving them out of medicine.
The willingness to stand up for our profession
Practicing physicians with real-life experience need to lead the effort to reshape the way medical care is delivered and paid for. Solutions must work for all of us, whether we practice within a large system, or in a small group or in a solo practice.
I have practiced in academic settings, in large group settings and a two-physician setting. I have chaired my specialty socioeconomic and government relations committee and I know firsthand how regulations can materially alter how we take care of our patients. As a specialty advisor to our AMA RUC, I am a leader on alternative payment and CPT issues. At home in Washington state, I mentor residents and young physicians; I cherish the advice given by senior colleagues. I have experienced the real-life struggles that patients go through while getting care.
With this experience and the vision to see what is ahead, it is time for me to stand up for our profession. I now seek to give back to my patients and fellow physicians by serving on the AMA Council on Medical Service (CMS).
"Dr. Sheila Rege's leadership makes a difference both locally and nationally. She is a teacher, mentor, and leader who inspires young physicians, residents, and student, defends senior physicians and cares passionately for patients.
Dr. Rege is our go-to expert on medical service issues."