Massachusetts Medical Society: Q & A with BRM Chair Candace Lapidus Sloane, M.D.

Q & A with BRM Chair Candace Lapidus Sloane, M.D.

Vital Signs: November 2013

State Update

Q & A with BRM Chair Candace Lapidus Sloane, M.D.

Candace SloaneWe spoke recently with Candace Lapidus Sloane, M.D., chair of the Board of Registration in Medicine, and asked her a few questions about the Board, particularly on how it is approaching a mandate from the state Legislature to tie competence in electronic medical records (EMRs) to physician licensing.

Dr. Sloane was appointed to the Board in 2011. She earned B.S. and M.D. degrees from Tufts University and has extensive experience in pediatrics and dermatology in a wide variety of academic settings.

MMS: Physicians licensed in Massachusetts are extremely concerned about the Legislature’s passage of a requirement that all license applicants must display skills in EMRs equivalent to those necessary for “meaningful use” by 2015. The law’s language is difficult to interpret and has created fears that all physicians, including residents, administrators, researchers, and specialists, must be federally certified as meaningful users or be ineligible for licensing in Massachusetts. Such a literal interpretation of the law would disenfranchise the majority of Massachusetts physicians. Can you comment on the work the Board is doing to create regulations that will implement or amend this law in a responsible manner?

Dr. Sloane: The Massachusetts Legislature was following the requirements of the federal statute regarding electronic medical records. It is a matter of great importance to the improved care of patients, and the Board has been actively engaged in discussions with all concerned stakeholders.

The Board will endeavor to implement the requirements of “displaying skills” in EMRs within the framework of all the existing CME demands on physicians already in place. We are focused not only on preventing the disenfranchisement of certain categories of physicians, but also on our mission to provide broad access to uninterrupted quality medical care for patients. We will try and mitigate the burden as best we can while obeying the spirit and letter of the law.

MMS: The Board is finally at full strength with seven members serving after a number of vacancies have been filled. How sharp do you feel the learning curve is for new members and what are the tough issues?

Dr. Sloane: I am fortunate to lead a Board of intelligent, experienced, and diligent volunteer members. The governor and the secretary have appointed people of substance and insight. With the help of our superb interim executive director and her staff, we are approaching full speed in our deliberations and decisions. We are well up the curve.

MMS: As allied health professions expand their roles through legislative action and regulations from other boards, how do you see the Board of Medicine of the future interacting with other boards and professions engaging in procedures and practices that have traditionally been the practice of medicine?

Dr. Sloane: It is important to recognize that our Board, its sister boards, and the DPH share the mission to help to ensure that all patients have access to and receive the highest quality health care. For this reason, the various Massachusetts boards should interact early, informally, and openly about issues of shared concern.

I am a traditionalist. My guiding credo is to do what is best for the safety of the patient population of the Commonwealth. I believe physicians should provide the level and type of care, be it procedures or consultations, best performed by a doctor. The Board will always cooperate with all the boards of HHS to find the optimal mix of responsibility assignments for each of the health care professions.

— William Ryder, Esq.

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