Over the final few months of my IMS Presidency, I’ve spent considerable time reflecting. Reflecting on the impact I’ve hopefully made during my time as your president and the path for me to continue my journey as a physician & patient advocate moving forward. I’ve thought of the reasons I became a physician – my compassionate spirit, love of science, dedication to lifelong learning, and most important serving those who need us the most.
As I come to the end of my term as IMS President, I would like to share some successes and challenges your Iowa Medical Society has encountered over the last year, many of which intersect with those same reasons why I became a physician.
As I hope you know, the Iowa Medical Society is fighting for you – our members – and of course our patients! We fight every day for Iowa physicians who are in the trenches – to each of you who pour your heart and soul into your practice, and give each and every patient high-quality care, straight from the heart.
It amazes me every day, how Iowa physicians continue to do the work they do. Especially when reimbursements are falling, prior authorizations eat up more and more of your time, and quality improvement initiatives and the EMR fill your evenings and weekends with data entry.
Out of state lawyers circle you, awaiting your every mistake. And inflation and worker shortages make it more difficult than ever to keep your doors open for business. But while you are busy doing the doctoring, your medical society is busy fighting for you to keep doing what you’re doing – taking care of patients! I hope we also remember that our medical society fights for the Iowans most in need.
We have made strengthening access to rural healthcare in Iowa a top priority. IMS led the development of Iowa’s first-ever statewide provider workforce strategic action plan, convening representatives of more than 35 organizations spanning the breadth of healthcare professions, academia, patient advocates, the payor community, and the business community.
We will continue to work with these stakeholders to find actionable solutions to the current access concerns in rural Iowa because we know that patients in small towns deserve the same high-quality care that their urban neighbors receive, just as the physicians who care for them deserve the same reimbursement as physicians in non-rural practice settings. We also continue to advocate on the federal level for a much-needed update to the Medicare Geographic Practice Cost Index. Your Iowa Medical Society is more devoted than ever to assuring access to quality care throughout our rural state.
IMS has also never had such an overt organizational dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. With the creation of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, we have begun to lay the groundwork for a medical society that welcomes members from all backgrounds and promotes policies that work toward justice and fairness for all. This applies to our members, our leaders and staff, and to the patients we serve. We are all learning about the many ways an overt commitment to these principles can transform what we do and I’m excited that we can all learn and grow together.
And lastly, our Society has always and will always fight for Iowa’s children – our most precious resource! At IMS, we are lucky enough to count a high proportion of Iowa’s pediatricians as members. Our close work with the Iowa Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, and others who care for tiny Iowans has created numerous opportunities for collaboration and helped to strengthen our pediatric efforts.
Together, we have advocated for strong pediatric vaccine policy. We created a first of its kind in the state COVID-19 vaccine ECHO-model education series to ensure that Iowa’s providers were equipped with the latest science and clinical recommendations as pediatric vaccines were authorized. We have provided technical assistance for clinical quality improvements through our leadership of the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count Initiative. And we are continuing to work toward strengthening our Medicaid program, with the knowledge that children make up over half of all Medicaid members in Iowa. Believe me when I say that IMS stands with children!
A reflection on the last year must also include our ongoing legislative push for medical liability reform. The recent record judgement handed down here in Iowa City brings renewed urgency to our efforts at the capitol. We continue to work on educating the handful of holdout votes in the Iowa House about the importance of enacting a $1 million hard cap on noneconomic damages. We are thankful to have the strong support of the Governor and legislative leadership, but we still have work to do.
As we look to the future, there is no doubt that our Iowa Medical Society will continue to be front and center advocating for and advancing medical practice in Iowa. We will continue to meet the challenges presented to our physicians, our practices, and our patients. Under the dedicated leadership of your new president, Scott Truhlar, led by a talented and dedicated Board of Directors and so many physicians lending their time and their talent on our 11 IMS standing committees, and supported by the capable IMS staff, I am confident that your Iowa Medical Society will continue to be bold and relevant in the year ahead and for many years to come.
It has been my honor to serve as the 172nd President of our Iowa Medical Society and I thank you for this incredible opportunity!
Tiffani Milless, MD