Current Bulletin

  • Honoring Those Who Make Access to Care A Reality in NC

    Mingling at the NC Museum of Art before the gallery tour and dinner.

    A special evening at the North Carolina Museum of Art on Saturday, March 17, honored generous donors to the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation (NCMSF), which is focused on improving access to quality health care for all North Carolinians. Sixty-five members of the 1849 Society gathered for cocktails, dinner and a private tour of the Judaic Art Collection, much of which was donated to the museum by Abram Kanof, MD, the father of former NCMS President and long-term leader of the Society and its Foundation, Elizabeth Kanof, MD. Dr. Kanof and her family continue to be instrumental in growing the collection.

    The 1849 Society recognizes those who have given at least $10,000 cumulatively in their lifetime or who have included the NCMSF in their estate plan at $10,000 or more.

    Guests enjoyed the special docent-led gallery tour and an elegant dinner. As a token of gratitude, the donors also received a specially commissioned glass work of art by Kaleigh Hodgson with words describing the values of the NCMSF in the shape of North Carolina (image at right).

    “Those who give generously to our Foundation’s programs are helping thousands of people throughout the state get the care they need and thoughtfully lead necessary health care system reforms for the future,” said NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson. “This event was one small way to honor and thank the special people who are effecting change through their generosity.”

    The Foundation’s mission is to improve access to quality health care for all North Carolinians through its Community Practitioner Program and by offering leadership development programs through the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership (KIPL).

    Members who give to our Foundation have made it possible for 50 clinicians to be placed in underserved areas of the state in 2017, providing more than $2.5 million annually in care to under- and uninsured patients. KIPL programs   educate dozens of strong leaders each year to help effect positive change and ensure access to care through system reforms.

    Learn more about the NCMSF and how you can contribute to making access to quality health care a reality for more people in North Carolina. If you are interested in becoming a member of the 1849 Society, please contact Pam Highsmith at or at 919-833-3836.

  • Dr. Cunningham Receives Jacobi Medallion

    Dr. Cunningham on his way to accept his award.

    The Mount Sinai Alumni Association and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai awarded the prestigious Jacobi Medallion to the North Carolina Medical Society’s Immediate Past President Paul R. G. Cunningham, MD, FACS on March 15 at a gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Given since 1952, the award honors distinguished achievement in the field of medicine or extraordinary service to the hospital, school or alumni community.

    Dr. Cunningham, Dean Emeritus of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, served as NCMS President last year. Board certified in general surgery, Dr. Cunningham is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where he received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. He completed his residency in general surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1979. He has held numerous appointments throughout his career, including surgeon, professor and hospital chief of staff. He served for many years as both an educator and a surgeon at ECU, Vidant Medical Center and the Bertie County Memorial Hospital.

    Dr. Cunningham making his remarks after receiving the prestigious Jacobi Medallion.

    “Congratulations to Dr. Cunningham, who certainly is deserving of this honor,” said NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson. “We know firsthand and are grateful for Dr. Cunningham’s contributions to his community in Eastern Carolina and to organized medicine. We appreciate his graceful leadership and his thoughtful cultivation of future generations of physicians.”

  • Let Your Patients Know About Drug Drop Event in Your Community

    Safe disposal of medication that is no longer needed or expired helps the environment and helps prevent misuse of the medication. Communities throughout the state have scheduled “Operation Medicine Drop” events when people can drop off their unused medication to be disposed of safely. See when there will be a ‘drug drop’ in your area.
  • Help Patients Be Smart About Health Insurance

    Next time your staff is struggling to help a patient with their insurance coverage, they can offer the services of Health Insurance Smart NC (Smart NC), a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI). Smart NC assists consumers whose health plan has denied coverage for medical services, by filing insurer appeals and arranging for external review by medical professionals as provided by state statute to consumers.

    Smart NC also files consumer complaints with the NC State Health Plan and other self-funded employers and pursues resolution in compliance with applicable plan benefits, State law and NCDOI regulatory authority. Services are provided at no cost.

    To learn more about how Smart NC can help North Carolinians better understand their options and rights related to health insurance, contact Smart NC at 855-408-1212 toll-free or visit DOI’s website.

  • PAI Report Much Cited In Media

    The Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI) recently released a report that updates a previously-released study conducted by Avalere Health that examined the continued growth in hospital acquisitions of physician practices and the trend toward physician employment.  The new study adds an additional year of data to the earlier study, which reviewed the period from mid-2012 to mid-2015.

    Avalere researchers found that by mid-2016, hospitals acquired an additional 5,000 medical practices, and physician employment grew 11 percent from a year prior.  By 2016, 42 percent of physicians were employed, as compared to just one in four in 2012.  In a regional analysis, researchers found growth in hospital acquisitions of medical practices in every region of the country, ranging from 83 percent to 205 percent over the four-year period.

    PAI is studying these trends as part of an ongoing research collaboration with Avalere Health in order to better understand how physician employment and consolidation in the health care system affects the practice of medicine and impacts spending by payers and patients.  Read the report.

    North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) CEO Robert W. Seligson also serves as PAI President and was quoted extensively in national media about the results of the study. Here are links to some of the coverage.

    Analysis Shows Hospital Ownership of Physician Practices Growing Rapidly, Medscape, 3-20-18

    Rapid Rise in Hospital-Employed Physicians Raises Costs, Modern Healthcare, 3-16-18

    Humana Rebrands Clinics Amid Doctor Buyout Wave, Forbes, 3-15-18

    Hospitals employed 42% of physicians in 2016: 5 study findings, Becker’s Hospital Review, 3-15-18

    No slowdown in consolidation trend: Hospitals acquire 5,000 independent practices in 1 year, FierceHealthcare, 3-15-18

    Hospitals acquired 5K physician practices in 1-year period, Healthcare Dive, 3-14-18

    Health systems acquire 5k independent practices during 2015-16, Becker’s ASC Review, 3-14-18

  • MAHEC Collaborates to Implement Preconception Health Screening Tool

    The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville has partnered with a national maternal child health collaborative to test a new model that it helped to develop for assessing mothers’ health during well-child visits.

    The goal of this screening tool is to reduce low birth weight and preterm births, which account for more than 70 percent of infant mortality, where the US ranks among the worst of all industrialized nations.

    Preliminary findings from implementation of this new preconception health screening tool, which is being funded with support from federal grants, the March of Dimes and the Duke Foundation, are published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

    At MAHEC, providers are already seeing positive impacts in four key areas known to impact infant mortality, with 70 percent of screened patients taking multivitamins with folic acid, compared to a national average of only 34 percent.

    Read the full press release here.

  • AMA Survey: Patient Clinical Outcomes Shortchanged by Prior Authorization

    The results of a recently released American Medical Association (AMA) survey found that 92 percent of physicians say that prior authorization programs have a negative impact on patient clinical outcomes. The survey results further bolster a growing recognition across the entire health sector that prior authorization programs must be reformed.

    According to the AMA survey, which examined the experiences of 1,000 patient care physicians, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) report waiting at least one business day for prior authorization decisions from insurers – and nearly a third (30 percent) said they wait three business days or longer.

    The high wait times for preauthorized medical care have consequences for patients. More than nine in 10 physicians (92 percent) said the prior authorization process delays patient access to necessary care; and nearly four in five physicians (78 percent) report that prior authorization can sometimes, often or always lead to patients abandoning a recommended course of treatment.

    The survey findings show that every week a medical practice completes an average of 29.1 prior authorization requirements per physician, which takes an average of 14.6 hours to process – the equivalent of nearly two business days. To keep up with the administrative burden, about a third of physicians (34 percent) rely on staff members who work exclusively on the data entry and other manual tasks associated with prior authorization.

    In January 2017, the AMA with 16 other associations urged an industry-wide reassessment of prior authorization programs to align with a newly created set of 21 principles intended to ensure that patients receive timely and medically necessary care and medications and reduce the administrative burdens. More than 100 other health care organizations have supported those principles.

    In January 2018, the AMA joined the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Pharmacists Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Medical Group Management Association in a Consensus Statement outlining a shared commitment to industry-wide improvements to prior authorization processes and patient-centered care.

    Earlier this month, the AMA and Anthem announced a collaboration that would include, among other goals, identifying opportunities to streamline or eliminate low-value prior-authorization requirements and implementing policies to minimize delays or disruptions in the continuity of care.

    To further support prior authorization reform, the AMA has recently produced and released the following educational videos.

    Video #1 highlights the new AMA survey and illustrates that the undue burdens of preauthorizing medical care and drug treatments have reached a critical level.

    Video #2 highlights the real opportunity to improve patient experiences while significantly reducing administrative burdens for both payers and physicians by reforming prior authorization and utilization management programs with electronic prior authorization (ePA) that integrates within the electronic health record workflow.

    Video #3 highlights how physicians can start using ePA and what the AMA is doing to help.

    Please visit the AMA website to learn more about the ongoing collaborative efforts.

  • Opportunity To Be Part of History: Consider Applying to the White House Fellows Program

    The White House Fellows program is one of the most prestigious leadership programs in public service. This non-partisan program was established in 1964 and seeks to bring the best and the brightest to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Federal Government for one year as aides to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Alumni of this program include Dr. Bill Roper, Colin Powell, Wesley Clark and Elaine Chao.

    The application period for the 2019-2020 class will open in November 2018. Learn more about this program.

  • In the News

  • Learning Opportunities

    The Governor’s Institute and the NC Medical Board is offering “Controlled Substance Prescribing: What Every Provider Needs to Know” live training sessions across the state. These free CME panel sessions are designed for controlled substances prescribers to complete up to two hours of the required education in opioid prescribing. A one hour online training is recommended before the live training. Register for 1-hour online training here. Together they fulfill the three hour requirement.  Here are the upcoming sessions:

    April 3, 2018 – 6:00 p.m. Carolinas Medical Center, Concord (2 hrs)

    May 8, 2018 – 6:00 p.m. Carolinas Medical Center, Shelby (2 hrs)


    The National Academy of Medicine presents a webinar on “Improving Care for High-Need Patients: A Conversation with Health Quality Partners” on March 29 from 2-3 p.m. In the United States, care management for this population remains fragmented, uncoordinated, and reactive. How can we best improve the health and care for this group while balancing quality of care and associated costs? Learn more and register.


    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission (TJC) will provide a 2018 Update for Security and Emergency Management via an NCHA Webinar on March 29, from 10:30 to 11:30 am. Speakers will discuss changes in regulatory laws and standards taking place in 2018. Register here.


    The National Rural Accountable Care Consortium (NRACC) will offer Quality Improvement Workshops North Carolina on April 17 in Fayetteville and April 19 in Elkin. During the interactive workshops, participants will learn from Caravan Health experts about best practices to improve the health of their community, increase practice revenue and improve quality scores. For more information please contact


    Registration is now open for the NC Ob/Gyn Society & NC Section of ACOG’s 2018 Annual Meeting,
    April 20-22 at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville
    . Other specialties may be interested in the Hands-on Ultrasound workshop and the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder course, which provides the required education needed to obtain the waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. Learn more and register.


    The 9th Annual Addiction Medicine Conference will be held April 26-28, in Asheville. The conference will provide clinically practical and up-to-date substance use related training, applicable across general medical as well as addiction specialty practices. Learn more.

    The 2018 Spine Society of Australia 29th Annual Scientific Meeting will be held April 27-29 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Australia. Learn more and register.


    The National Academy of Medicine will hold a public meeting around the topic of “Establishing Clinician Well-Being as a National Priority” on May 2, 8:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. with an art show and reception from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C. A live webcast is available if you are not able to attend in person. Learn more and register.

    The Carolina Ear Research Center will present Otology for the Primary Care Physician: Diagnoses You Don’t Want to Miss on Saturday, May 5, at the Wine Cellar at the Angus Barn in Raleigh. Space is limited to 30 participants. Learn more and register.


    The Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development will offer its 25th Annual Clinical Reviews and Primary Care Update 2018 June 18-22 at Amelia Island, FL. The meeting seeks to update physicians on the latest recommendations of medical subspecialties important to the primary care physician. It is a comprehensive program consisting of lectures, workshops and panel discussions on topics of general interest in various areas of medicine. Learn more and register.


    MAHEC is offering two courses to help treat patients with opioid use disorders: “Providers’ Clinical Support System: Buprenorphine Office-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders, The “Half and Half” Course,” and “Recovery Within Reach: Building Team Expertise in Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT).” Sessions will be held June 22 and Sept. 28. Learn more and register.


    Registration for Erlanger’s 11th Annual Trauma Symposium is open. The Symposium will be held Aug. 9-10, at the Chattanooga Convention Center.  Learn more and register.


    NCTracks has Computer-Based Training (CBT) courses on a variety of topics available to providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Anyone who is a registered user with NCID access to the NCTracks secure Provider Portal can access and take a self-paced course. A list of courses available can be found here and under Quick Links on the NCTracks Provider Training page of the public Provider Portal.


    MAHEC, working with the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, The Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse and Project Lazarus: A Project of CCNC, is offering A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain, an online education course. The course is designed for all prescribing health care practitioners who are interested in an overview of the rational prescribing approaches for persons with chronic pain disorders. It will fulfill the North Carolina Medical Board’s requirement of at least one hour of continuing education designed specifically to address prescribing practices for chronic pain management. The course cost is $15 for the first 6 months. Offers 3 hours of AAFP, AMA/AAFP Equivalency, and CDE;