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 extra things “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.
" Sheila is a consensus builder who works hard at our state level to ensure that WSMA policy addresses concerns faced by academic physicians, private practice and medical students so as to improve health outcomes.”
Mika Sinanan, MD, PhD (General Surgery, WSMA President, UW Medicine Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Reducing the “hassle factor” and administrative burdens plaguing medicine
Being a physician means being part of a profession focused on helping others regardless of circumstance, focused on helping people lead healthier and happier lives and is a very fulfilling job. We are fortunate to have amazing highs of directly curing a cancer or a deep low when a patient does poorly. Physicians are now pressured to see more patients and document more irrelevant aspects of the vist which leads to us spending less time getting to know our patients and their problems. Through my work within the AMA Council on Medical Service and within WA State Medical Association, we have developed policy to reduce pre-authorization burdens, increased interoperability within our community, and advocated for physician led health teams.
"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."
Chief Ken Hohenberg | Kennewick Police Department
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 and Covid has accelerated changes. 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” must 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.
Leadership is a Team Sport
Patients have been able to access my practice within large health systems, small groups and solo practice in both private and academic practice settings. Physician mentors have included academic department chairs, Deans, and private hospital system CEOs or CMOs. These mentors opened doors to have me meaningfully contribute to discussions at the AMA CPT or RUC committees, at the WA State HTCC Committee relating to Medicaid and state purchased health programs.
Our healthcare space has faced unprecedented challenges, and I have actively appointed younger colleagues to join me on committees and boards to propose solutions and create long term value. Building a high impact board or committee needs an investment in hearing everyone’s voice, encouraging diversity and adopting collaborative discussions.
My advisory work with the University of Washington (UW) Creative Destruction Laboratory (CDL) computational health project has me working alongside Microsoft Health Ventures, administrators and public company CEOs to provide CEO guidance on strategy, funding and market opportunities for IT and SaaS companies harnessing AI and big data to provide telemedicine and digital health solutions. Board work is a team effort to help organizations thrive.
"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."
Ray Hsiao, MD | Past President, Washington State Medical Association