Sept. 27, 2018
Update on addressing the opioid epidemic
Colorado Medical Society testifies before legislative committee, will convene physicians for best practices Oct. 6 

The 2018 House-Senate Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee met in July, August and September to continue their work to address the opioid epidemic in Colorado. On Aug. 22 and Sept. 24, the bipartisan legislative group heard testimony from physicians, including that of Colorado Medical Society liaison Donald Stader III, MD.

Stader, a practicing emergency medicine specialist, testifying specifically on draft legislation under consideration by the Interim Study Committee, emphasized that the physicians of Colorado stand with the members of the committee and are committed to collaborate in sustained, systematic efforts to reverse the opioid epidemic. He presented recommendations that the CMS Prescription Drug Abuse Committee developed for the legislators' consideration for possible next steps to address the opioid crisis: 
  • Increase access to care and decrease use of opioids using multi-modal approaches and alternatives to opioids;
  • Ensure that insurance coverage works for opioid addicted patients; and 
  • Bolster the clinical workforce that operates as a team to care for patients and families experiencing substance use disorder (SUD).
He also shared CMS concerns about mandating e-prescribing of controlled substances, mandating opioid-related CME as a condition of licensure, and extending the three-year timeframe on prescription fill limits and PDMP checks passed into law this year, all under consideration by the interim study committee. This portion of his testimony also included support for several of the draft bills under consideration.

Finally, Stader gave an update on the work physicians are doing in close collaboration with the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention to help develop and drive best practices across specialties. Thanks to a grant from the consortium, on Oct. 6, CMS is gathering physicians from different specialties and practice settings from across the state in the first in a series of convenings to develop future strategies for physicians to help reverse the opioid crisis, including clinical guidelines and other best practices. The outcome of these professionally facilitated sessions will be shared directly with the consortium to help inform their work. All physicians are invited to participate in the Oct. 6 convening. Contact if you are interested in attending.

Regarding the testimony on draft legislation, Stader said, "our comments were well received. Our good relationship with Rep. Petterson and the stellar continued work of our lobby team help us get our perspective on issues heard."

Click here to read his Sept. 24 testimony.
CMS recommends changes to licensing application questions on mental health and substance use disorder 
Due to advocacy by medical students from both the University of Colorado and Rocky Vista University, the Colorado Medical Society recently joined the Colorado Psychiatric Society and others in sending a letter to the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) recommending updates to the mental health and substance use disorder questions on professional licensing applications.

The Colorado medical licensing application includes a question about whether the applicant has been diagnosed with or treated for a condition that may impair his or her ability to practice in a health care field, as well as a question about having "abused or excessively used" alcohol or other habit-forming drugs now or in the past five years.

The organizations stated strong support in the letter of the provision that applicants can answer "No" to both the alcohol/substance use question and the mental illness/neurologic condition question if the condition or behavior is already known to the Colorado Physician Health Program (CPHP).

However, recognizing that not all Colorado health professionals and trainees can establish a relationship with CPHP, the signatories are advocating for changes to the current medical licensure questions so that they focus on current functional impairment: "The screening question about past mental illness diagnoses should be eliminated. General screening inquiries about past psychiatric diagnoses and treatment are over-broad, discriminatory and have little predictive value concerning an applicant's present ability to function competently and safely in his or her professional role."

AMA president, CMS leaders visit Grand Junction and Montrose 
AMA President Barbara McAneny, MD. Photo by Sydney Warner, Montrose Daily Press
American Medical Association President Barbara McAneny, MD, made two stops in Colorado in early September to hear directly from physicians on the Western Slope on unique issues they are facing and to discuss areas of focus currently being addressed by the AMA: confronting the increasing chronic disease burden, attacking dysfunction in health care that interferes with patient care and reimagining medical education. McAneny listened carefully to each physician and reassured them by stating, "We [AMA] are listening. We support our colleagues in the care of their patients and listen to the concerns that affect their communities."

Accompanied by Colorado Medical Society leaders -- President Robert Yakely, MD; President-elect Deb Parsons, MD; past president and CEJA Chair Lynn Parry, MD; and past president Dave Downs, MD -- McAneny met with the Mesa County Medical Society membership at their monthly meeting on Sept. 4 and then traveled to Montrose for a Curecanti Medical Society meeting on Sept. 5.

The visit generated media coverage from the Grand Junction Sentinel newspaper and the Montrose Daily Press. Read the Sentinel article here and the Daily Press article here.
Physicians Foundation's survey finds physicians are pessimistic about the future of the profession as burnout rates continue to rise
The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and helps them facilitate the delivery of health care to patients, has released the findings of its  2018 survey of U.S. physicians, revealing the impact of several factors driving physicians to reassess their careers. 

The survey, administered by Merritt Hawkins, includes responses from almost 9,000 physicians across the country and underscores the overall impact of excessive regulatory / insurer requirements, loss of clinical autonomy and challenges with electronic health record (EHR) design / interoperability on physician attitudes toward their medical practice environment and overall dissatisfaction -- all of which have led to professional burnout.

Consistent with the finding of past Physicians Foundation surveys, 79 percent of physicians report that patient relationships continue to be their greatest source of professional satisfaction while intellectual stimulation was a distant second at 55 percent.

Click to register
2018 Heal the Healer Symposium - Oct. 13 in Pueblo
Register today for the Heal the Healer 2018 Symposium, a transformational, interactive experience featuring amazing speakers and exercises that will give you practical tools to go beyond surviving to thriving in your career. It is hosted by the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, Personal Impact Foundation and Pueblo County Medical Society.

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. MDT 

WHERE: Pueblo Community College,  Fortino Ballroom 900 W. Orman Ave. Pueblo, CO 81004 

WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND: Providers are in crisis in our community, state and around the nation. ACT NOW! Come hear what the experts say about it, including world-renowned speaker, Dan Diamond, MD, adept in crisis management and how providers can thrive under pressure! You'll leave with tools to ensure you can be your best selves for the good of your families and patients. 

TARGET AUDIENCE: Physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and spouses/guests 

COST: $50 per person; includes 4 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™, breakfast, lunch, amazing speakers and free giveaways!

Colorado Consortium Update 
Make plans to attend education symposium on Oct. 24 and consortium annual meeting Oct. 25
You're invited to attend any or all of a two-day event hosted by the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention to learn best practices for pain management and addiction treatment, and learn how you can help stakeholders across the state address the opioid epidemic. Both events are free and will be held at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The Colorado consortium will hold their annual meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25. Attend all or part of the day to share and engage in the overall effort to combat the epidemic, contributing your knowledge and experience in pain management with and without opioids. View the agenda here.

The evening before the annual meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 24, the consortium will hold an education symposium for providers during which e xperts in preventing and treating opioid use disorders will review non-opioid pain management and best practices around medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid use disorders that you can incorporate into your practice. MDs and DOs who attend are eligible for continuing medical education credit. Remote/online access may be available; watch for more information in a future ASAP.

The education symposium begins at 5 p.m. with a poster session, networking opportunities, and heavy hors d'oeuvres. The plenary session begins at 6 p.m.
Free webinar outlining legal expectations for the prescribing and dispensing of opioids - Oct. 9
Any provider who prescribes or dispenses opioids faces the challenge of staying on top of the changing legal landscape as the government reacts to the opioid epidemic. 
Caplan & Earnest, one of the largest health law practices in the state with experience in Colorado legal and regulatory requirements, will host a one-hour webinar at 10 a.m. on Oct. 9 for health care providers to highlight these changes. 
The webinar will discuss DORA's updated "Guidelines for the Safe Prescribing and Dispensing of Opioids," which is endorsed by multiple licensing agencies, and Senate Bill 18-022, signed into law in May 2018, which resulted in substantive changes to various practice acts. Both DORA's guidelines and the new law instruct on changes that may result in a provider's practice becoming more restrictive and conservative when prescribing or dispensing opioids.
New podcast series from Telligen: Speaking Out on Pain Management 
Stay current with the latest pain management techniques and explore evidence-based alternatives to opioid therapy by listening to "Speaking Out on Pain Management," presented by Telligen, the Medicare Quality Innovation Network Quality Improvement Organization for Colorado, Illinois and Iowa. This podcast brings a fresh perspective from doctors, nurses, counselors and everyday pain-sufferers on the front lines of treating and living with chronic pain.

New episodes will be available on the second Wednesday of each month for the rest of the 2018.

Short on time? Listen and learn while on the go through short episodes and mobile streaming through apps like Apple Podcasts, Google Play and more. Access the podcasts here.
Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Spotlight on Opioids
The Surgeon General recently released "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Spotlight on Opioids," a condensed document with opioid-relevant content from the 2016 Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. The Spotlight on Opioids calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the opioid crisis and recommends actions that can prevent and treat opioid misuse and promote recovery.

The Surgeon General also released a digital postcard, which is a call to action to the general public. Learn and share the five actions every person can do to stem the opioid epidemic.

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Annual Comprehensive Lung and Breathing Summit, 11.5 approved CME credits. Meet-and-greet social Thursday night followed by a day and a half of informative, educational and experiential presentations and discussions. Oct. 25-27, 2018 at The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs.  Register here.

Reserve your room early at the Broadmoor with the exclusive UCHealth negotiated rate of $171 per night; click here.

Contact Tanya Forsyth by phone  (720-848-7866) or email

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