By Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, January 02, 2012The month of January makes me think about resolutions.
I ’m not clear how this tradition got started, but I want to go down on record as being against them. This annual effort to be my most perfect self — including “over-the-top” exercise goals, weight-loss plans, and other lofty goals — always feels a little daunting. And yet I, like most of you, will set these new goals hoping that at least a few will stick. Remarkably one or two do. So in the midst of the darkness of January I often find a determined sense of new beginnings.
There are two important new beginnings for Derm World this month too. The first is the introduction of a column entitled Legally Speaking. We got so many positive comments on our occasional legal pieces that we decided to create a column devoted to these issues. This first month’s topic is on everyone’s mind: RAC audits. RACs, otherwise known as Recovery Audit Contractors, have a powerful incentive to find Medicare payment issues in each of our practices. No longer are dermatologists, accustomed to sitting on the sidelines as the small players in the health care arena, immune. These RAC groups are actively seeking Medicare overpayments in every corner of our country and they are incentivized by each instance that they identify. Make sure that you read this piece, so that you are informed and know what to expect when they reach your office.
Another new beginning for Derm World will premiere next month. With computers and EHRs popping up in many of our offices we decided that it was time to create a regular technology column. You’ll get to see its debut in February since it will alternate with the legal column. We figured that all of us could use a steady diet of technology information relevant to dermatology. I can guarantee that it’ll be worth your reading.
January is often a time to take stock of our practices and try to identify ways to make them function better. I think, therefore, that you’ll find each of our features perfectly timely. Who amongst us can say that their practices can’t use some tweaks in the patient scheduling arena? I certainly enjoyed reading the thoughtful piece on making this process more efficient. We also highlight a growing trend around the country of requiring practitioners to identify themselves to patients. I’ve seen the benefit of name tags in my practice where patients can now call the nurses by name. It makes sense to me that we stand up against those who seek to dishonestly label themselves as experts in the skin, thereby misinforming and misleading the general public. And lastly, you’ll enjoy reading the piece on the need for comparative effectiveness research (CER) in dermatology. Robert Kirsner, MD, PhD, sums this up well when he states that “Essentially, the goal of CER is to figure out what works, and for which patients, and when.” It is hard to not want this approach to be the next frontier of our research efforts.
And so as we enter January there is a sense of the new possibilities in all areas of our lives — work, play, and with our families, resolutions notwithstanding. If only it wouldn’t get dark so early I might even like this month a bit more. Thank heaven for the cups of tea that I can hold tight to warm my hands and the lovely smell of a fire roaring in my fireplace to ease the path through this month. I guess there is a silver lining to everything.
Enjoy your reading.