2020 has been the year no one expected, but one that everyone will remember. The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed the world, not to mention how you practice medicine and support your patients. So many challenges and obstacles emerged, but PM&R physicians rose to the task.
Many jumped into the frontlines to directly treat COVID-19 patients. Many transitioned their practices to accommodate the nation’s rising telehealth needs. You transformed your practice to stay dedicated to your patients. One thing is clear—everyone was affected, but community brought us together. In challenging times like these, it’s the people you surround yourself with that lift you up and support you. Our PM&R community proved that we continue to be strong, positive and encouraging. Throughout the pandemic, we have grown to become an even more collaborative society than we were before. The power of collaboration is strong within the Academy and YOU are the reason.
Throughout the spring and summer, we came together to create resources to aid our community. Despite the challenges of working virtually, you helped create the resources that your peers needed most. Take a look at some examples below of the valuable efforts we moved forward together:
- Dedicated Web Content—We created the COVID-19 Physiatrist Member Support and Resource Center to keep you updated on the latest news and provide in-depth resources created for physiatrists.
- New Dedicated Forum for Member-to-Member Support—We created the Care in the Time of COVID-19 forum on PhyzForum to help members share their experiences, challenges and advice.
- Hosted 20+ COVID-19 Specific Webinars—We held more than 20 webinars as an opportunity for you to hear from other physiatrist members and experts across healthcare on their experiences and ask them questions.
- New Physiatrist-Specific Resources—We developed timely educational resources based on member feedback.
- Concentrated Advocacy Efforts—We advocated for the federal support, legislation, regulatory relief and resources that you needed at the time you most needed them.
- Graduate Medical Education-Focused Support—We created a forum specifically for program directors to allow them to discuss their unique challenges in trying to form their residency program virtual curriculum. To assist residents in their programs, we also offered special access to educational resources for resident members who were no longer receiving hands-on training at their program.
Thousands of PM&R physicians have found value, confidence and power in AAPM&R’s community. Community is the basis for everything we offer our members, providing spaces for you to learn, network and advance your careers, while fostering a sense of belonging across all backgrounds and areas of expertise.
One of the opportunities we offer you to meet a diverse group of PM&R physicians is through Member Communities, which allow you to connect with fellow physiatrists across the country in clinical-, practice- and identity-focused communities. We offer more than 40 Member Communities and about 5,000 (50% of Academy membership!) of you are involved in at least one of them! During this year alone, you have contributed to more than 300 Member Community discussions on PhyzForum, truly getting into your peer-to-peer collaborative spirit!
AAPM&R Members are Shaping the Future of PM&R
Throughout the summer, we spoke to physiatrist members across the country who pivoted their practices due to COVID-19. Several of you shared your stories with us, of working in your communities, helping treat COVID-19 patients, innovative ideas you have advanced and more. YOU are making a difference in your communities and our specialty. Read their stories here.
Bringing PM&R Physician Members Together
Our commitment to community is the pillar of our brand. We strive to provide space for you to connect, learn and advance your career. In 2020, we created the following new opportunities for you to come together with your peers:
- Virtual Town Halls with our Board of Governors, which gave you an opportunity to connect with the Board to ask questions and share your perspectives, experiences and challenges.
- Hosted a Pediatric Rehabilitation Lecture Series, which included more than 20 educational webinars to help you stay current on important clinical knowledge.
- Held a summit for PM&R department chairs and division chiefs to discuss the rapidly-evolving and increasingly-complex environment they work in. We provided a space to address these new challenges and share strategies for success.
- Developed a research workgroup of member volunteers who had valuable dialogues with us about the research opportunities available during COVID-19 and how that research can take place.
AAPM&R’s advocacy provides what individual PM&R physicians cannot easily do alone—and we are stronger when we work together—to influence the trajectory of PM&R in healthcare and help advance the future of the specialty. We are fighting scope of practice expansions that threaten patient safety and PM&R physician practices. We track and influence state and federal legislation and health policy issues; advocating on behalf of our members and positioning PM&R physicians as essential leaders across the healthcare continuum.
AAPM&R Leads Effort to Unite Team Physiatry to Score an Enormous Advocacy Win
We led multiple efforts to advocate against a CMS proposal that would allow non-physician practitioners (NPPs) to perform any of the inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) coverage service and documentation duties that are required to be performed by a rehabilitation physician.
Our leadership efforts resulted in a BIG WIN for physiatry! By bringing together the unified voice of 2,377 PM&R physicians, 122 patient advocacy organizations, state and medical specialties, and prestigious IRF hospitals, as well as 97 of your patients, and gaining support from key Congressional offices, we successfully defeated this CMS proposal that would have had a detrimental impact on patient care, the specialty and the future of inpatient rehabilitation.
Team Physiatry’s success is driven by you. Thank you for being a #PMRAdvocate and getting involved! We couldn’t do it without you.
What’s next? We are aware that, even though this is a major win for our specialty, it has not fully closed the door to future scope of practice concerns in the coming years. We recognize, value and respect that the entire multi-disciplinary team is essential for quality patient care. By working with and welcoming multidisciplinary team members, we optimize the role of the PM&R physician and extend the opportunities and influence of PM&R physicians and the specialty. That’s why we are continuing to work with stakeholders and actively asserting our position that physiatry-led, patient-centered, team-based care is essential to providing optimized medical rehabilitation care for patients. We remain committed to defending the unique skills and experience of PM&R physicians.
Throughout the year, we tracked and influenced legislative, regulatory and policy issues, participating in more than 25 coalitions to advocate on behalf of members and positioning PM&R practitioners as leaders in the future of healthcare. In 2020, we have been pushing ahead, setting the agenda for the specialty at large and positioning AAPM&R at the forefront:
- Issued a Position Statement on the Proper Use of ‘Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’ and Derivatives—We released this position statement to combat the inappropriate use of the specialty’s name and protect those seeking care from the spread of misinformation about the specialty. We encourage you to use this as an advocacy tool.
- Advocating Against Proposed Physician Reimbursement Cuts in CMS’ 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule—CMS proposed an almost 11% cut to the conversion factor, which determines payment for services. We are strongly advocating against this proposal and will keep members updated.
- Helping You Ease Burnout—We have long advocated to reduce burden for PM&R physicians by streamlining administrative documentation. We’re thrilled that CMS decided to remove the post-admission physician evaluation (PAPE) documentation requirement in its finalized IRF Prospective Payment System Rule for 2021. CMS’ decision to remove the PAPE is a direct result of our ongoing advocacy.
- Advocating for Improvements to Evaluation and Management (E/M) Coding—Our efforts have resulted in new office and outpatient E/M code descriptors, documentation guidelines and increased relative value units (RVUs), which will go into effect on January 1, 2021.
Learn more about our 2020 advocacy wins for Team Physiatry, our 2021 advocacy priorities and how you can get involved at www.aapmr.org/advocacy.