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2017 Interim Meeting

The MMS 2017 Interim Meeting is taking place today and tomorrow. For Interim Meeting news, expect a Vital Signs This Week special edition early next week.

New MMS membership benefit this month: NEJM Journal Watch Online

In support of physicians’ passion for lifelong learning and need to stay abreast of advances in medical knowledge, the MMS is pleased to announce that your membership now includes a complimentary subscription to NEJM Journal Watch Online. This membership benefit provides you with immediate access to medical news, drug information, public health alerts, and clinically-relevant summaries, with expert commentary covering 12 specialties and 19 topic areas. MMS members should be on the lookout for a confirmation e-mail in mid-December from with the subject line, “Welcome to NEJM Journal Watch Online.”

Take notice! New MassHealth plans coming in March 2018

MassHealth representatives will be addressing these changes at the MMS Town Hall Forum at our Interim Meeting TODAY 6:00–6:30 p.m. Webinars are planned for December; see link below.

From March 1, 2018, MassHealth will offer an expanded selection of health plan options to managed care-eligible members. These new options are Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). MassHealth will also continue to offer Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and the Primary Care Clinician (PCC) Plan as managed care options.

  • Most MassHealth managed care members will be assigned to a health plan so that they can continue to receive care from their PCP. Patients are encouraged to review their health plan to ensure their specialists and hospitals are covered. All members will have the opportunity to choose a different plan; after being notified, they need to take action before May 31.
  • The Eligibility Verification System (EVS) on the Provider Online Service Center (POSC) will be updated with messages that indicate which type of health plan a member is enrolled in and whom to contact for billing information;

For more information, see the MassHealth PCDI Bulletin for all providers and fact sheets for PCPs, specialists, behavioral health providers, and acute care hospitals.

MDPH and CDC alert: Flu may peak early this season

The MDPH is seeing an increase in influenza and influenza-like illness in Massachusetts. The CDC also reports that several flu activity indicators are higher than is typical for this time of year. Although it is too early to predict, this may be a flu season with an early peak. Please remember to:

  • Vaccinate your patients and yourselves to protect against influenza; it is not too late; a flu shot is the best prevention;
  • Remind your staff and patients that getting vaccinated protects those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness;
  • Treat patients promptly and presumptively with antivirals, especially patients who are at increased risk of severe illness from influenza;
  • Wash your hands often, and thoroughly, and encourage hand hygiene and cough etiquette in patients and staff.

For more information, see MDPH’s guidance for providers and public health professionals.

Older Driver Safety Week: Resources for you and your patients

Next week — December 4­–8 — is Older Driver Safety Week. Licensed drivers aged 75+ have a higher rate of car accidents. Find information and resources for your older patients, and tools for you and other providers to assist in keeping everyone safe on the road.

MDPH alert: Invasive Meningococcal cases at UMass Amherst

Two students at UMass Amherst have recently been diagnosed with invasive meningococcal disease serogroup B. Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (MenB) is now highly recommended for UMass Amherst undergraduates and those with medical conditions that place them at high risk for invasive disease. Clinicians are rerquested to be alert for cases compatible with meningococcal disease in UMass Amherst students and their close contacts; prompt recognition and antibiotic treatment of meningococcal disease is critical. Please immediately report all suspect cases of meningococcal disease to the MDPH at (617) 983-6800. See the MDPH fact sheet on invasive meningococcal disease and college students. Questions? Call the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at (617) 983-6800.

Seeking physicians and med students with experience of workplace bias

The February issue of Vital Signs, the MMS newsletter, will be themed on diversity, inclusion, and culturally competent care. We’re looking for physicians and medical students who have experiences and observations relating to bias in the medical workplace. You do not have to be identified. We’re looking for your thoughts on:

  • Incidents involving blatant or unconscious bias relating to race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, disability, etc. Have you experienced or witnessed negative judgments, stereotypes, assumptions, exclusion, etc., on the part of patients and/or colleagues?

  • Ways that students and physicians can constructively handle and respond to bias, whether as the target or as an observer/bystander. Have you engaged with patients or colleagues in ways that seemed to help?

To participate or learn more, please email or call (781) 434.7110 ASAP. Please forward this request to others who may be interested.

Reminders: Stuff you should click on

2018 MMS Awards: Please nominate senior volunteer physicians (extended deadline), medical educators, and public health advocates

You can help your colleagues and peers who excel in these and other areas become recognized for improving the lives of their patients and strengthening their communities. The following deadlines are approaching:

  • Grant V. Rodkey Award for Oustanding Contributions to Medical Education (Dec 4)
  • Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health (Dec 4)
  • Senior Volunteer Physician of the Year Award (Dec 8: EXTENDED)
  • MMS Lifetime Achievement Award (Dec 15)
  • Distinguished Service to the MMS Award (Dec 15)
  • Excellence in Medical Service Award (Dec 15)
  • Medical Student Scholar Awards (Jan 19)

How to apply or nominate a colleague The MMS Committee on Recognition Awards wants to hear from you;  information and applications

How the MMS awards make a difference

"It is an extraordinary honor to receive an award named for Dr. Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, one of the most accomplished and inspiring physicians in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ... I am deeply grateful to the Massachusetts Medical Society, not only for this award, but even more for MMS’s own efforts to continuing Dr. Bowditch’s work, both supporting physicians in improving the care of individual patients, and also advocating for reforms in our health system and our society, so that every person in the Commonwealth can lead the healthiest possible life." 

—Lachlan Forrow, MD; president, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship; director, Ethics/Palliative Care Programs, BIDMC;l2016 recipient of the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health

CMS performance preview period: deadline TONIGHT

On October 18, CMS opened the 30-Day Preview Period for the 2016 performance information targeted to be publicly reported on Physician Compare starting in December 2017. The preview was scheduled to end on November 17. Due to a technical issue with the Provider Quality Information Portal (PQIP), all data were not viewable for the first week of preview. This display issue has now been resolved. CMS is extending preview through Friday, December 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Awards, accomplishments, promotions? Feature in Member News & Notes

Vital Signs, the monthly print and online newsletter of the MMS, is now listing your professional news — such as joining a new hospital, opening a practice, or a recent promotion — and your other achievements: board appointments, awards, or speaking engagements. We are currently seeking submissions for the February issue of Vital Signs. Please include your full name and title, medical school with graduation year, residency institution, hospital affiliation, recent update, and a high-resolution headshot. Send submissions to by December 5, 2017.

Educational programs and events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held at MMS Headquarters, 860 Winter St., Waltham, MA. View our full calendar of upcoming live CME activities.

Featured online CME courses – Risk Management credit

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

Find additional risk management online CME activities.

This week in health care

Sign up for daily roundups of health news affecting Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts could lose federal money for children's health insurance

According to MACPAC, a national organization advising Congress on Medicaid and CHIP policy, Massachusetts is expected to run out of money for CHIP by February 2018. CHIP covers 160,000 Massachusetts children. CHIP spending in Massachusetts is estimated at $635.2 million in fiscal 2018.

MMS to weigh whether doctors should help dying patients end their lives

The Massachusetts Medical Society is poised to tackle one of the thorniest issues facing physicians: whether doctors should be allowed to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill adults who want to choose when to die.

A doctor bonds with his furry little patient

When Federico Erebia retired from medicine after 25 years in the field, he never anticipated taking on new patients, let alone the furry variety that inhabit trees and store nuts. This was perhaps the finest care a squirrel without health insurance could receive in the United States.

Bay State Medical performs '9-way' kidney transplant, lauds National Kidney Registry

When Baystate Medical Center's Transplant Division performed a life-saving, nine-way transplant on Michael Dancosse on Nov. 15, hospital officials agreed that technology and communications systems have advanced to a point where it's time to address one of the biggest problems facing transplant recipients: The waiting list.

Milford Regional Medical Center back in black with financial turnaround

President and CEO Edward Kelly said in an interview this month hospital executives didn't question the decision to borrow $25 million to finance the largest capital project in Milford Regional's history (the rest was fundraised). 

Nurse staffing issue added to the 2018 ballot

The latest nurse staffing question, an earlier version of which led to a 2014 law imposing staffing requirements in intensive care units, was greeted warily by hospitals in September. 

Psychiatrists: Mental illness rarely linked to violent acts

"There's always been a tremendous misconception that people who suffer from mental illness are responsible for a great deal of violence in this society," said Dr. Judith Edersheim, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Recent lawsuits claim Alkermes fired female workers who complained of bias

All three women who filed suits worked for Alkermes (Nasdaq: ALKS), a Waltham, Massachusetts-based drugmaker known for its drug to help opiate addicts that's one of the biggest life sciences employers in the state. 

Mass. General studies "party drug" as a lifesaver

"The effects are much more rapid than anything we have available," said Dr. Cristina Cusin, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Some are afraid we'll have a ketamine crisis, but if used correctly, it can be a formidable tool." 

Reliant, Optum agree to terms on acquisition

Pending state approval, Reliant and Southboro Medical Group will join OptumCare, the delivery arm of OptumHealth with more than 30,000 physician partners and 65,000 advanced practitioners in health care facilities in the country. 

Boston Herald health reporter shares her depression struggle

Mental illness will do that. Take our lives in unimaginable directions. While no two people who have been diagnosed are battling identical beasts, those of us affected can agree that the illness — at one point or another — has made us unrecognizable.

BU researchers fighting Alzheimer's on new front

Local researchers say they may have found a new way to fight Alzheimer's by reducing clusters of tissue in the brain formed by internal stressors such as viruses and toxins.

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