At an innovative retreat held in Chapel Hill the weekend of May 19-21, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Board of Directors defined a creative and strategic course for the organization over the coming decade. Under the guidance of a facilitator, Board members reflected on and debated how the NCMS can best impact the current health care environment to improve the health of North Carolina’s citizens and ensure physicians and physician assistants are leaders in this process.
In keeping with NCMS members’ long tradition of being catalysts for positive change and health care leaders, these priorities are the latest extension of why the NCMS is crucial to the future of health care in North Carolina.
Led by NCMS President Paul Cunningham, MD, and Strategic Planning Officer Dev Sangvai, MD, and with the expert help of facilitator Bruce Flye, Board members left the retreat energized and committed to success. To broaden their perspective, the Board hosted several guest speakers. Mandy Cohen, MD, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, outlined her vision for the NC DHHS, and Peter Ubel, MD, addressed physician burnout and its relationship to the move to value-based health care.
The following themes emerged as priorities:

  • A commitment to representing and engaging members. When the NCMS House of Delegates voted to suspend operations, the NCMS Board promised members that it would evaluate the evolution of the governance process and member engagement. The Board has conducted regional meetings and solicits member feedback online and through county and specialty medical societies.  Priorities identified in this area include an organizational commitment to surveying members, seeking technological solutions for communications, and revising board and staff responsibilities to include more active local outreach.
  • A commitment to driving statewide policy that accomplishes population health goals. Based on its successful history as a convener of best practices, the Board identified the NCMS’ role in population health as engaging all stakeholder groups, both within and outside of direct health care delivery. They acknowledged that resources will be needed to carefully define outcomes measured by data-driven processes and that success in this area will not only improve state health system performance and leading health indicators among North Carolinians, but also improve professional satisfaction in the medical community.
  • Actively creating physician leaders and promoting physician leadership throughout health care delivery systems. The Board acknowledged that in today’s health care marketplace, clinical skills are not the only skill set needed by physicians to be successful. This commitment includes inventorying current physician leadership positions in NC, identifying areas of need, and providing education, coaching and mentoring via the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership (KIPL) to ensure   the medical profession is represented and leading clinical and administrative needs for   health care delivery.

“What we really wanted out of the planning weekend was to reinvigorate ourselves as leaders representing the NCMS membership, and to engage physicians across North Carolina,” Dr. Cunningham said.    “Much of our discussion came back to the issue of health inequities in our state as the purpose for convening our profession. What developed (during the weekend) was a renewed commitment to our membership and our patients in a variety of exciting projects aimed at connecting the dots in our fragmented health care system. If we are passionate about addressing health inequalities as a profession, it is going to take patience and persistence, but I believe that we—as a professional organization—have it within us to do the job.”
Watch upcoming issues of the Bulletin for information on the NCMS Strategic Plan and how NCMS members are engaging in the above projects.