What They’re Watching: Dustin Corcoran, CMA

Dustin Corcoran is the CEO for the California Medical Association. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss creating a virtuous lifecycle for physicians.

“What we’re focused on right now at CMA is trying to create a virtuous lifecycle for physicians — so, from the beginning of their training all the way through retirement. And we’re focused in three key areas in order to accomplish that.

The first, with Physicians for a Healthy California, is making sure that there’s residency programs for our medical school graduates. Right now, we’re a net exporter of medical school graduates from California, and that’s a travesty knowing that we have a workforce shortage here in California. So, expanding the number of residency programs is a key focus for PHC.

Then after your residency program, we want to make sure that there’s loan repayment programs so that you can practice where you want and [can practice] for the patient populations that we need to take care of here in California. Removing that economic burden that forces too many physicians to choose a different practice environment or a different patient population than they otherwise would if costs were eliminated. So, there’s that really critical component.

Next, we’re focused on the business aspects of CMA through our PSO — a physician service organization that tries to offload the business burdens that physician practices have. The fact that primary care physicians are spending 30 to 50 percent of their time doing non-clinical work is insane. That’s crazy. We need them spending time with patients, not in the back office trying to deal with prior authorizations and payment issues. We need to eliminate all of that and give them time to spend with patients — particularly those patients that need their time and their energy and their focus the most. So, that’s PSO.

And then we also need to be attentive to the physicians themselves, and make sure that we’re addressing burnout and wellness in real ways. And I don’t mean just telling physicians that it’s your fault that you feel stressed and burned out and you’re not getting meaning out of work. But we’re partnering with Stanford and Tait Shanafelt there to build a holistic solution to physician well-being. So, focusing on the individual, yes, but also on the systemic drivers of burnout so that we can increase fulfillment and purpose at work, which we think improves quality and outcomes for patients. Our energy really is how do we create that lifecycle, that virtuous lifecycle for the physician workforce, deliver better care, more affordable care, and higher quality care in California.”