May 2016
Look in the Mirror

started this year as your president by looking to where we were going. My term has gone by remarkably fast, and I want to end it by looking at where we've been.
When I reflect on the past year, I think about the butterfly effect, first described by Edward Lorenz, an MIT meteorologist, who found that even minute changes in a nonlinear system could have profound effects later on. Unknowingly, his work was a foundation of chaos theory, a metaphor for the current state of medicine. It is true, though, that small changes now can have a large influence on the future, and that is what I hope we accomplished this year.

I am most proud of our wellness initiatives. Burnout rates for physicians are at an all-time high. More than half of physicians are reporting at least one sign of burnout and the rates are highest for the specialties on the front lines of care. For emergency medicine, my specialty, the rate is over 70 percent. Suicide takes over 400 physicians a year - the size of an entire medical school - and the rates are continuing to rise. We recognized the need to address the problems of stress and burnout, in an anonymous way that protects our privacy. This led to the genesis of our Physician Wellness Program, a safe harbor for physicians, where GLMS covers the cost of four counseling visits. It's an opportunity I hope our members take advantage of, rather than trying to go it alone. It can save careers and save lives.

We've also been working behind the scenes to improve how GLMS functions every day. All organizations depend on IT to do well, and we are totally revamping our old technology with a new cloud-based program, Member Max. This will allow our members to make use of many new features, such as paying dues online, tracking CME, and in general, makes it much easier to navigate our website and interface with GLMS. Our staff has put in many long hours this year to convert our system, and you will love the result. It will allow us to better interface with other Kentucky physician organizations, and will allow us to become a more efficient organization. We will also completely restructuring our Centralized Application Processing Service (CAPS), becoming much more responsive to both our members and hospital participants later this year. 

We've had a great impact on legislation this year in Frankfort, and I think it has been one of the most successful sessions in passing bills that favorably impact physicians in many years. Our policy and advocacy team has reinvigorated our legislative efforts, and their work has paid off. This is one of the most important ways that our membership can shape the future, engaging physicians to have a greater presence both in state and national politics.

We as physicians have been given a gift, and many use that gift to give back to our community both in a local and international way. Your GLMS Foundation provides many opportunities for medical missions, and there are a myriad of ways that GLMS members are caring for people beyond their primary jobs. Promoting missions has always been a cornerstone of what we do at GLMS, and our Supplies Over Seas initiative continues to provide global support. I'm also very proud of the work of The Healing Place, started by GLMS members over 25 years ago. It is truly a place where hope is found.

We're facing the challenges of navigating a difficult reimbursement system, trying to understand and embrace the specificity of ICD-10 while attempting to comply with Meaningful Use, the Physicians Quality Reporting System, Value Based Purchasing, and other CMS programs. My physician practice started using scribes 5 years ago and it has changed our lives, letting us interact with patients instead of interacting with a computer screen. It is at least one way to try and retain the patient-physician relationship and have patients see me as a healer rather than a data-entry clerk.

While this year has been one with many successes, it's also been one of change. We celebrated the retirement of Lelan Woodmansee, who had been the face of GLMS for my entire medical career, and welcomed the selection of Bert Guinn as our new Executive Vice President and CEO. Lelan was a tremendous influence, both personally and professionally, and we'll miss his steady hand. Bert has done a fantastic job in taking over, and has very capably met the challenges of his first year. The entire leadership team and staff at GLMS are what make our organization successful, and I am grateful for their engagement and passion. We are in good hands.

In closing my year as your president, I'd like to thank my family, who has gracefully indulged my year of rescheduled dinners, early mornings and late evenings, and travel, along with my physician partners at Southern Emergency Medical Specialists who have traded shifts and allowed me the time to serve. Most importantly, however, I'd like to thank our membership. It has been an incredible honor and I thank you for entrusting me with your leadership.

I think that little things we do now will have a tremendous impact on the future. The butterfly effect is real. Even the smallest positive changes made this year will influence our organization for many years to come. Thank you.

Robert Couch, MD, MBA, is the emergency department medical director at Norton Audubon Hospital and the founder of Southern Emergency Medical Specialists, PSC.

Latest News
Kentucky's 2016 Legislative Session is Huge Success
GLMS/KMA Partner on Commit to Quit Campaign
Life/Disability Coverage for Members and Spouses
Guidelines for Zika Virus Outbreak
Save 30-60% on Credit Card Processing
Upcoming Events
Presidents' Celebration May 22: Info Coming Soon
2016 KMA Annual Meeting Sept. 9-11
Louisville Medicine
Click the image below to read the latest issue.
Click the image below to read the latest issue.
Member Resources
GLMS S taffing
Contact Us
GLMS Social Media
Make Your 2016 Annual Contribution
to the GLMS Foundation Today! 

The GLMS Foundation supports medical mission trips, student scholarships, preservation of the old medical school building and GLMS initiatives like Wear the White Coat.  Click here to contribute today!  You may also mail your check payable to the GLMS Foundation, 101 W. Chestnut St., Louisville, KY, 40202.
Greater Louisville Medical Society Mission Statement:
  • Promote the science, art and profession of medicine
  • Protect the integrity of the patient-physician relationship
  • Advocate for the health and well-being of the community
  • Unite physicians regardless of practice setting to achieve these ends