Cover: From vision to reality

Friday, January 01, 2016 12:00 PM
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Members shape The New CMS

by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator


  • The New CMS will empower CMS members and harness the intellectual and political muscle of Colorado physicians in more effective ways than ever before.
  • CMS hit the ground running immediately after members approved the sweeping governance and communications reforms in September, mapping out a comprehensive work plan and recruiting for new work groups.
  • All members are strongly encouraged to engage in whatever fashion fits their schedule, from joining a short-term work group to completing member surveys on medicine’s most important policy priorities.

The Colorado Medical Society is in the midst of a grand metamorphosis following the overwhelming approval in September of a realigned, grassroots-centered governance model developed by physicians and for physicians now and in the future. The reforms, developed through two years of intensive information gathering, promise to empower CMS members and harness the intellectual and political muscle of Colorado physicians in more effective ways than ever before.

Member input and support is critical, which is why all members are invited to be involved in every step of the process of the plan in action, in whatever way their interests and schedules allow. The work groups described below are just the beginning of what promises to be a transformative year.

Annual Meeting Re-engineering Work Group
Because physicians voted to replace the traditional House of Delegates with an ongoing, seamless grassroots-centric series of interactions between a streamlined board of directors and members, CMS has the opportunity to reinvent the Annual Meeting to assure relevancy and function for a diverse membership with broad interests. CMS President Michael Volz, MD, recruited physicians and students to join a short-term Annual Meeting Re-engineering Work Group that will meet in the first quarter of 2016 for two or three work sessions and gain insight from meeting planning experts, consultants and other state medical societies who have already re-engineered their annual meetings. They aim to complete their work by the end of March.

“A re-engineered Annual Meeting is intended to bring us together as a community of common purpose at a time when powerful influences are threatening to fragment our profession into balkanized interests or, worse, indifference and disengagement from our patients, profession and colleagues,” Volz said. “From this work group we will gain a fresh perspective on how to optimize a collaborative setting for clinical, political and policy education that pulls all ideas and concerns into a highly energized forum.”

virtual grassroots policy forum working group graphic

Virtual Policy Forum Working Group
development of a key part of the reform proposal: the new virtual grassroots policy forum. The idea behind this communications platform is to give members an unprecedented voice in CMS by enabling members to submit a policy idea 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and to provide input and advice in their areas of interest – all from the convenience of a laptop or smartphone. It replaces the once-a-year call for policy proposals that were considered, debated and approved or rejected by the House of Delegates. The forum promises to greatly increase participation among members as well as increase the agility of the society, as CMS will be able to more quickly respond to the rapidly evolving legislative and regulatory health care landscape.

Volz invited both technology-proficient and technology-challenged physicians to participate in the short-term Virtual Policy Forum Working Group, co-chaired by Robert Yakely, MD, and Ray Painter, MD. The group will meet for the first time in January and will meet two or three more times over the next 10 months, working with a computer software company selected from many qualified candidates to help build out the communications platform to ensure its simplicity and ease of use for all members. The target launch for the grassroots policy forum is September 2016.

“It’s important for all physicians to be engaged in the process, both in the development of the policy through their input, and in implementing the policy through their support, particularly when it involves legislative action,” Painter said. “I think the new communications platform will be just what the doctor ordered! It will allow us to provide our input electronically, without interfering with our busy work schedule, provide the CMS board and staff with the information they need to develop and support our policies, and streamline the flow of information between physicians, component medical societies and CMS.”

Medical Society Management Series
A working group comprising past CMS leaders and graduates of the CMS Advanced Physician Leadership Training program will help develop the Medical Society Leadership Training Program, one of the most highly anticipated aspects of The New CMS. A benefit of the traditional House of Delegates was its role as an incubator for the leaders of the future; The New CMS will now aggressively recruit and train leaders for the component and state levels who reflect the evolving demographic and diversity of Colorado physicians.

Over the next few months, the working group will select and collaborate with a qualified consultant on the design and marketing of a skills-based curriculum for the explicit purpose of medical society leadership development. The target start date for the first cohort is late 2016 to early 2017. 

Complementing this effort is the biannual funding and assisted coordination of the Advanced Physician Leadership Program, a yearlong leadership training program that helps physicians attain the tools and skills to effectively lead and transform health care. The program strengthens the ability of physicians to assume leadership roles within the profession and their communities, and empowers them to confidently serve as champions to improve the delivery of cost-effective, high quality and safe care. Planning for the third cohort of the APLP will begin in mid-2016.

“It’s more important than ever for physicians to play an integral role in health care delivery, policy-making and administration,” said Jeremy Lazarus, MD, working group chair and past president of the American Medical Association. “He said these programs represent unique opportunities for physicians to gain skill sets that might not have been part of their traditional medical education.”

“Through these initiatives physicians can master some of the best knowledge to navigate the choppy waters of the future and also bring that expertise to bear in their component societies, specialty societies, practices and hospitals, as well as to develop the future leadership of our Colorado Medical Society,” Lazarus said. “A strong CMS needs strong and even more knowledgeable leadership to be at the center of any changes in our Colorado health care system. I am excited to be a part of developing those initiatives for my physician colleagues and look forward to their leadership in the future.”

Nominating Committee
The CMS Board of Directors approved in November the appointment of a seven-member Nominating Committee – six physicians and one medical student – that will be responsible for coordinating all-member elections for the offices of president-elect and CMS delegates and alternate delegates to the AMA. It is chaired by Ted Norman, MD.

“In an effort to be more inclusive and relevant to our members, the Colorado Medical Society board, with the support of the House of Delegates, voted to change to an all-member election format,” he said. “We hope that this will stimulate even more discussion within our membership so that more voices can be heard. This new process will require candidates to engage more members of the society than ever before.”

All CMS members will now be empowered to choose their own representation for these positions, to run for these offices if they so choose and qualify, and to sponsor and endorse candidates. The nomination period opened in late December and extends through Jan. 31, 2016. An election guide for candidates and members is available on that provides more information on the duties, eligibility, terms of office and honorarium for each open position, as well as candidate requirements, campaign guidelines, the election process and more. All members are encouraged to review the guide.

CMS-Component Study
Over the next year, a working group chaired by CMS past president Ben Vernon, MD, will study the relationship between CMS and local component societies, and recommend ways to strengthen both levels of organized medicine in supporting the delivery of programs and services to physician members. The first meeting was held in December with two more planned through April 2016. Mike Ware is a member of the working group and the CEO of the El Paso County Medical Society. He said the relationship between CMS and the component societies is important because each brings unique value to the daily lives of physicians.

“CMS excels at policy development and advocacy and can be a unifying force statewide,” Ware said. “Components can each develop their own value at the point of patient care through networking and education, providing practice support services like we do at EPCMS, or many other ways.”

“Most members want to practice medicine,” he continued. “They’re not interested in the intricate inner working of their medical societies. By focusing on a strong state/component partnership we ensure medical societies ‘just work.’”

2016 and beyond
Successful implementation of The New CMS will require focused and methodical preparation over the next two years because it will drive policy results, as a matter of design and intent. This redesign is the linchpin to connecting increasingly diverse medical communities into common purposes of advocacy.

The New CMS reflects what physicians across Colorado have said matters most to them in terms of relevance and importance, and because the relevance of CMS hinges on how well the organization engages members in this work and on their behalf, CMS requests and welcomes the participation of every physician and student member.

Watch for many opportunities to engage with The New CMS over the next year.

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Cover Story | Initiatives | Governance Reform


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