Hi from Seattle

Hi from Seattle

George W. Sledge, MD, FASCO

Nov 07, 2010

I am in Seattle today attending the meeting of the Washington State Medical Oncology Society (WSMOS, pronounced wizmiss by its members). Dr. Jeff Ward, the current President (his term ends at this meeting) was kind enough to invite me to what has been an excellent event.

Last night I had the pleasure of sitting in on the WSMOS board meeting. The WSMOS board is an exceptional group, thoughtful and focused on the issue of providing the best care to cancer patients in an efficient fashion. Oncologists in Washington share the concerns of cancer doctors everywhere and are subject to the same pressures we all face: the political winds blowing from Washington intersecting with the changing economics of private practice. As elsewhere, they have seen (and have been part of) the great migration from small independent practices to large hospital-based groups.

It is easy to be depressed by the state of health care and the many dysfunctionalities of our current system. I am more impressed by the ability of the doctors I meet to interact with and change the system. WSMOS interfaces with practices, hospitals, Medicare and state government. It has led the charge for important oncology-related state legislation. It has played an important role in linking local oncologists to their national society. And, passing it on, it has served as a mentor organization for Alaska's state society. Kudos to this excellent state society, and all our state societies.

WSMOS also plays a useful educational role. The educational meeting today is a mix of practice-related nitty-gritty and clinical science. ASCO's own Joe Bailes gave a thoughtful legislative update, and there were talks on accountable care organizations, tips for dealing with Medicare audits, and positioning organizations for success and survival. The scientific theme circled around molecular prediction, with talks on breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Many of these talks will be posted on the WSMOS website, and Jeff Ward tells me they will not be password protected.

Finally, today (November 5) is my birthday. I am not a big fan of birthdays. The WSMOS folks, conspiring with dark elements operating out of Indiana University and ASCO, thwarted my attempt at B-day evasion. Thanks for the cake, guys!


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