These days, health care providers are “in a fishbowl,” said Richard Harris, MD, the president of the board of directors of the Large Urology Group Practice Association (LUGPA), in a speech updating association members at LUGPA’s annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Subjected to more public scrutiny than ever before, Dr Harris said, urologists should respond by responding to and becoming more involved in their environment. That role can take various forms, including health policy and advocacy, collaboration across various health care delivery settings, or education about the challenges posed by the current health care landscape.
Dr Harris also delivered results from a survey LUGPA conducted of its membership. Some 20% of respondents said they thought there was nothing lacking at conferences. Others responded that they would like to see more continuing medical education opportunities made available, as well as virtual meetings that would allow younger practitioners and those with family considerations to participate from home. Many responded that they appreciated the organization’s dyad leadership structure and the advocacy work LUGPA does on their behalf. “We’re a flyweight punching at a heavyweight level” when it comes to advocating for policy changes on Capitol Hill, Dr Harris said. “We have 2,500 members, but we have gravitas in D.C.”
Dr Harris then segued into a discussion about the organization’s 3 central pillars: advocacy, health policy, and reimbursements. He said these pillars guide LUGPA in lobbying for key issues for its members, chief among them is working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve regulatory measures, fee schedules for urologists, and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) reimbursements.
Dr Harris stressed that the kind of advocacy LUGPA does in Congress needs leadership from within in order to be successful. LUGPA Forward, the organization’s leadership development program, will be a major part of this in 2020. “There are natural born leaders, but most aren’t,” and need to be trained, he said, noting the importance of advocating for providers. “If we don’t fight, we’re going to be buried.”
Another survey of LUGPA members that Dr Harris mentioned had to do with salaries in group practices. “What are we paying the people who work for us?” Dr Harris said. Noting that “managing physicians is always a challenge,” he said that group practices “have to pay people what they’re worth.” (The complete results of the survey will be available to LUGPA members online.)
A new, second edition of the LUGPA Guidebook will be released in 2020, Dr Harris said. Calling it the “playbook of how we do things” and explaining that it will include 10 chapters that deal with topics that are of interest to physicians and administrators alike. The Guidebook includes everything from forming and merging group practices to Medicare payment rules.
In closing, Dr Harris emphasized the importance of providers and group practice administrators getting involved in LUGPA. “With involvement, we are able to sustain ourselves,” he stated.
Harris R. LUGPA Presidential Update: State of LUGPA/Urology in the USA. Presented at: LUGPA 2019 Annual Meeting; November 8, 2019; Chicago, IL.