R. Austin Wallace, MD
Chairman, President and CEO

Letter from the ChairmanMay 2018

"Tracking Healthcare Trends"

It can always be a challenge to keep up with ever-changing trends in the current healthcare environment. In the next few Newsletters, we will discuss how the delivery of healthcare is changing countrywide, how these changes are now affecting or will soon impact us in West Virginia, and what we, as physicians and other healthcare providers, can do to prepare for the challenges these new innovations will have on the practice of medicine.

In this month’s Newsletter, we will discuss telehealth and how this delivery system is no longer innovative but is now commonplace in many areas of the United States. In subsequent Newsletters, we will talk about how the utilization of retail medicine is increasing and may become a future trend due to the demand of our younger generation (i.e. millennials) for quality healthcare that is delivered in an efficient and convenient manner. Finally, we will discuss the new innovations in technology that will allow healthcare providers the ability to monitor patients’ vital information in real time from remote locations through Internet connected devices, even smartphones and smartwatches.

Hopefully, this transformation will help us continue to provide the latest and most sophisticated healthcare services to our patients. But as these changes are introduced into our everyday practices, we must remain aware of the pitfalls that can occur putting us at increased medical liability lawsuit risk due to increased and not infrequently unrealistic expectations which can result in unsatisfied patients. As we discuss each of these changes in the healthcare delivery system, we will provide advice and tools to assist you as you manage the risks you might encounter.

The Mutual has, since its beginning, put risk management at the forefront of the services we provide to our policyholders. Twenty percent of our staff is devoted to helping our insured physicians control their exposure to conditions that put them and their patients at risk. The new, innovative methods we will discuss will have their own challenges as we incorporate them into our practices. Our involvement with national organizations such as ASHRM and the PIAA and the interaction our risk managers have with individuals from across the country allows us to have the most up-to-date information that is available to assist our physicians.

Unfortunately, some of us find ourselves involved in litigation because of an unintended bad result or an unhappy patient. If this happens, the Mutual is committed to providing an aggressive defense of the medicine when warranted. Similar to risk management, more than twenty percent of our staff is devoted to defending our physicians who have lawsuits brought against them. Our claims professionals have many years of experience defending WV physicians. Also like our risk managers, our claims consultants attend country-wide conferences and seminars staying abreast of current trends in medical professional liability litigation. This knowledge is extremely valuable to our policyholders.

As Bob Dylan sang in 1964 and is definitely true today, “The Times They Are A Changin” and medicine is undergoing significant changes in this new era of technology. It is incumbent upon us, as physicians, to be aware of these changes and plan to incorporate them into our daily practices when necessary while at the same time preparing ourselves for any consequences that might occur as a result.
We are Physicians Insuring Physicians.

R. Austin Wallace, M.D.