CAP@YourService – Residents Issue – Fall 2009
Posted November 17, 2009
Our nation is currently grappling over the specifics of the largest health care overhaul our country has ever seen. The name of the game is lower costs, improved outcomes, and increased access to care—important points of the debate that we all agree need to be achieved.
But what can pathology bring to the table to help accomplish these goals? What can we do individually as physicians, and together as a profession, to improve the lives of those that depend on us for efficient and effective medical care? The answers to these questions are as varying as our different interests and specialties, but we all have the unique experiences and insights essential to getting us there.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to expand our domain and progress our image as it pertains to improving the care of our patients. This is our major opportunity to increase the public awareness of our integral diagnostic role as part of the medical team, whose experience and input helps to accurately assess the best available course of care. Our unique knowledge of medical information, especially as it pertains to laboratory medicine, is essential to the success of the inevitable progression to integrated electronic medical records. And our central role in tumor identification, staging, and treatment response gives us the distinct ability to effectively coordinate the appropriate screening for and management of malignancy, a major consumer of our health care resources.
Go beyond the short-lived motivation we all experience at meetings after hearing passionate speeches on transformation:
- Continue that enthusiasm by actively expressing a vocal interest to your program director to create and implement ways to spend more time with patients.
- Become more visible and vocal to your professional colleagues.
- Identify ways to interact with patients to explain your role in their care and offer assistance in understanding their disease, especially as it pertains to your role in diagnosis and treatment.
- Go into the operating room before and after frozen section diagnosis to better understand the questions asked and more effectively communicate the answers given.
- Incorporate creative ways to make the rounds with your patient’s surgical and medical teams to allow for better insight into the strengths and limits of our anatomic and clinical services.
- Mentor medical students about the vast areas of pathology and introduce them to what the future might hold, especially as it pertains to our role in personalized medical care.
The idea of a “medical home” is becoming increasingly more popular when analyzing the cost and outcome benefits of having a central and coordinated approach to prevention of illness and treatment of disease. Our role in this progressive health care delivery system is unknown at the moment, but unless we, as pathologists, become more active and vocal in our patients’ treatment, our role in their management will be diminished to providing peripheral tests and services, rather than being a central decision maker in their care.
Want to have the Residents Forum take action? Contact me, and we’ll make it happen.
Only when we take the initiative to follow the patient from the waiting room to the recovery room will we find ourselves looking from the inside out rather than the outside in.
John J. Cangelosi, MD
Chair, Residents Forum