October 2003 Bulletin

AAOS, Dr. Tongue honored by Bayer Institute

Bayer Institute presents award for "outstanding commitment to physician-patient communication"

By Carolyn Rogers

In recognition of his “vision, leadership and wholehearted commitment” to the Academy’s Communication Skills Mentoring Program (CSMP), John R. Tongue, MD, was recently honored with the 2003 Bayer Institute Program Partner Award.

Bayer Institute CEO Gregory Carroll, PhD, presented Dr. Tongue with the award and accompanying trophy during the AAOS Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 12, 2003.

The Academy partnered with the Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication in 2001 to develop a three-year pilot project designed to train orthopaedic surgeons in a new model for communicating with patients; Dr. Tongue led the initiative and serves as chair of the CSMP project team.

AAOS program is a “role model”

“The Bayer Institute works with more than 100 medical organizations, hospitals, universities and managed care groups, but the AAOS stands out as a role model,” Carroll said during his remarks. “We are extremely proud of the program that has developed out of our collaboration.”

The Academy program stands out in several ways, Carroll explained.
“For one, the AAOS is the first medical or surgical specialty society to develop a national, comprehensive communication initiative of this type,” he said. “Also, the Academy leadership committed to this project with a dedication and unity of purpose that were unparalleled. This dedication says a great deal about the organization and its commitment to the highest quality of clinical care and professional training.”

Finally, he said, “the results of the pilot program have been outstanding.” Participant evaluations of the Academy’s seminars have been overwhelmingly positive, with the courses rating an average of 3.7 on a four-point scale, Carroll reported.

In addition, the AAOS program has helped prompt insurers and others concerned with the quality of medical care to begin to recognize the value of physician-patient communication training programs.

“Because the majority of malpractice suits arise from communication breakdowns, medical liability insurance companies are beginning to provide incentives for physicians to become better communicators,” Carroll said. “Companies in six states are now providing discounts in their annual premiums for physicians who attend our courses, and one of those companies adopted the discount policy after seeing an AAOS communication workshop in action. Other companies have extended their existing discounts to orthopaedic surgeons for the first time as a result of this program,
as well.”

A successful partnership

“The relationship between AAOS and the Bayer Institute has been a partnership in every sense of the word,” Carroll said.

“Bayer brought to the relationship a tested clinical model known as the ‘4Es’: How to Engage, Empathize, Educate and Enlist patients in their health care,” he said. “This model has been validated to improve health outcomes and increase the satisfaction of physicians working with the patient in the clinic.

“The AAOS brought to the partnership a clear-minded understanding of what its membership needed to make the 4E model relevant and meaningful,” Carroll continued. “You identified and recruited two dozen outstanding orthopaedic surgeons as your faculty members and peer mentors. You also worked with us to produce professional quality video case studies based on real clinical dialogues—moving the training program from the theoretical realm into the practical.”

Dr. Tongue believes the communication skills program achieves the Academy’s goals of improving orthopaedic surgeons’ communication skills and enhancing their reputation as physicians.

“We’re having a lot of fun at these workshops,” Dr. Tongue said upon accepting the award. “Even the mentors learn new things from each workshop group because the real ‘teaching’ is highly interactive.”

Dr. Tongue expects AAOS to complete 100 successful CSMP workshops by June 30, 2004.

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