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    Docs and patients: Collaborate! Collaborate! Collaborate!




    This article is part of an ongoing series from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU), based on a partnership between the AACU and Urology Times. Articles are designed to provide monthly updates on federal and state legislative issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions about topics for future articles. Contact Ross Weber, state affairs manager, or Joe Arite, federal government affairs manager, at 847-517-1050 or








    It goes without saying that the goals of physicians and their patients coincide more often than not when it comes to public policies that impact the practice of medicine.

    From insurance regulations to public health initiatives to referral and ownership statutes, physicians and patients share a common desire to promote access to self-determined, efficient, and high-quality care.

    All too often, though, the advocacy campaigns of physician and patient groups operate in a silo environment. Obvious allies fail to join forces to advance mutually beneficial outcomes.

    The 4th Annual AACU State Society Network Advocacy Conference featured presentations and sidebar conversations aimed at promoting greater collaboration between these two populations and thereby achieving success before legislative and regulatory bodies. A record number of urologists, including more than half of organized urology’s state society presidents, came together in suburban Chicago to assess trends and formulate plans to better represent the specialty and patients.

    Highlighting the importance of these issues, the presidents of urology’s three largest national organizations kicked off the conference with an assessment of how each envisions his association’s role in state-level advocacy and support of state societies. AACU President B. Thomas Brown, MD, MBA; Large Urology Group Practice Association President Raoul S. Concepcion, MD, and AUA President Sushil S. Lacy, MD, asserted each organization’s strengths in this area while assuring the urologic community that ongoing collaboration on myriad initiatives promotes universal success.

    Patient engagement came to the fore when three physicians detailed their states’ efforts to preserve medical liability reform. Herbert W. Riemenschneider, MD, described how support from the public was instrumental in securing approval of Ohio’s 2005 law and successfully defending the statute in court. AACU Past President Douglas E. McKinney, MD, recalled that during West Virginia’s successful fight for reform, elected officials asked him to “call off the dogs” because they were receiving too many calls and faxes. Mountain State physicians urged patients via personal contact and mass media to call their representatives and demand liability reform. It worked, and West Virginia is now one of the most attractive states in which to practice.

    Unfortunately, Illinois’ Dennis A. Pessis, MD, couldn’t share such a success story. The Prairie State’s law was overturned by the state Supreme Court and despite a grassroots effort comprised of physicians, patients, business groups, and individuals to oust anti-reform justices, the highest judicial body did not change its composition.

    In addition to direct and mass media campaigns that brought doctors and patients together in support of a public policy, panelists on a strategically planned session with patient advocacy groups detailed numerous other ways to promote collaboration. Interstitial Cystitis Association representatives shared their social media strategy and explained that active participation by physicians in such forums develops goodwill and may ultimately lead to engagement on legislative matters. Us TOO President and CEO Tom Kirk passionately described his organization’s raison d’Ítre and urged attendees to monitor the activity of members of the National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions. Through its association with this alliance, Us TOO called on members to push for consideration of a bill in Maryland earlier this year that impacted the delivery of integrated urologic care.

    These and many other discussions at the 2011 AACU State Society Network Advocacy Conference will contribute to increased collaboration between urologists and their patients in support of key legislative and regulatory initiatives. The AACU will develop a database in the coming weeks with information that links physicians with local urology patient groups so these conversations might take place throughout the country. The future of patient-centered urologic care depends on collaboration with allied advocacy affiliates. The AACU and State Society Network will develop and support those relationships.

    To learn more about legislative issues in your state, please visit AACU's Action Center today at www.aacuweb.org

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