People have been living in unimaginable conditions since Hurricane Michael hit on October 10th, 2018. We are now in 2019, and many are still unable to live in their homes. Without proper housing and the many hazardous conditions around the panhandle that extend farther than just at home, there has been an increased rate of injury and illness. This hurricane has provided us with a prime example of social determinants impacting health.
The healthcare system has avoided addressing the issue of social determinants for a long time. In 2018, newly launched initiatives, as well as studies showing the need for these initiatives, have caused the healthcare system to take a new look at social determinants and how to address them.
Factors such as housing, transportation, food assistance, and personal finances have been taken into account to begin the process of reassessing healthcare's take on social determinants. People with limited access to transportation and housing are at a higher risk of injury or illness, especially when they have limited ways to get to a physician. Medicaid plans on helping to offer affordable housing to those who need it. Patients without transportation often forego making an appointment or miss them when they do have them. Uber recently launched a “health dashboard” to provide free rides for those unable to get to a doctor when they need to.
In addition to this, Geisinger Health System started “Fresh Food Farmacy,” which cut costs among diabetic patients from anywhere between $48,000 to $240,000 per member. This caused the risk of serious complications or death for people with diabetes to drop to 40%, a great win for those working with diabetics. Cigna is also planning on offering financial planning services for their group members, as announced in December 2018. Financial stress can take a significant toll on a person’s physical and mental health.
With many physicians claiming social determinants “aren’t their problem,” there is still a long way to go with maintaining equity among Americans. However, now that the panhandle is experiencing even more of these social determinants than usual, we have been provided a new chance to tackle these determinants and make the panhandle a healthier place for everyone. These social determinants will continue to play a significant role in local health for everyone involved with the hurricane, but choosing to see the positive side of this great opportunity is best for our county's health.
Time and time again, people fail to address the scale of suicide and mental illness in the medical profession. Emerald Coast Medical Association wants to change that. By becoming a member of Emerald Coast Medical Association, you will always be supported by our other members and us.
A recent uproar in the media was the National Rifle Association telling doctors in a tweet to “stay in their lane” when addressing the issue of gun violence. As you know, doctors see the aftermath of gun violence; you have to tell the family whether their loved one is alive or dead from this senseless act of violence. An immediate tweet back to the NRA from the Annals of Internal Medicine simply said: “Doctors are in our lane.” In addition to this, the AIM also decided to collaborate with the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM) to fund new research supporting new practice recommendations.
It is a known fact among all of our members that patients often do not do what their physician advises them to after seeing them. As frustrating as it can be, it is important to us at Emerald Coast Medical Association to make our members know that this is not a failure on your part, as you can only do so much. Our meetings are open for our members to discuss these frustrations without judgment, and allow them to discuss among each other how to better address these types of situations.
Emerald Coast Medical Association is aware that physician and nurse burnout is becoming more and more of a problem in the workforce. Recent reports have shown that factors such as the generation and role of the nurse can have a major impact on whether they experience burnout. We aim to provide our members with a compassionate community that supports each other through tough times. Our members communicate with each other to aid in problem-solving.
Physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals everywhere are experiencing burnout due to stress related factors. The suicide rate among physicians is more than double that of the general population. Burnout and depression can lead to medical error, something no patient wants to experience.
As they say, “to err is human.” Everyone makes mistakes. As medical practitioners, there is more at stake when we err than for the average person. A diagnostic error can delay needed treatment and harm patient outcome. Autopsy studies have found that there may be major diagnostic discrepancies in as many as 1 in 5 patients overall. For this reason, we must learn from our mistakes as fully as possible to avoid making them again.
With the recent high profile suicides in the news, many physicians are thinking about the importance of treating the whole patient, the role of empathy in medicine, and how best to observe the way a patient may be feeling emotionally in addition to how they are faring physically. Depression is dangerous and insidious, and we often feel that we must be on high alert to identify it in those we treat.
The nation’s 65-and-older population is growing every year, from 35 million in 2000 to 53 million in 2020. As this “baby boomer” generation reaches the age where chronic diseases become more prevalent, many medical providers have wondered how it will change the healthcare landscape. Baby boomers bring a high level of consumer savvy and familiarity with technology to the healthcare system, and with that comes higher expectations for providers and increased awareness of their own health issues. The influx of these people into chronic care management is likely to accelerate the movement of self-care, patient education, and whole person wellness, which stands to have a significant impact on the previously accepted state of the doctor-patient relationship.
Opioids. The very word can strike fear into a medical practitioner’s heart nowadays. While they are certainly an effective tool for managing pain in the short term, the dangers of extended use are causing serious problems in our country, not only in the medical industry, but the fields of criminal justice, mental health, economics, even the arena of marriage and family is being negatively impacted by the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.