Dr. Humayun “Hank” J. Chaudhry is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) of the United States. The FSMB is the umbrella agency for all the state medical licensing boards. It operates the Federation Credentialing Verification Service (FCVS). The FSMB is probably best known among physicians as a co-manager of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). The three USMLE tests are mandatory for obtaining a medical license in the United States. The FSMB was founded in 1912 and is the national not-for-profit organization for the 70 state medical boards of the United States and its territories.
Dr. Chaudhry did us the honor of allowing us to interview him tonight at the Partners Healthcare Connected Health Symposium 2013 held at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He was at the conference tonight with his lovely wife Nazli Chaudhry. Tomorrow, Dr. Chaudhry will be speaking about State Regulatory Boards in an Era of Rapid Healthcare Innovation.
What is an “interstate compact”?
The Federation of State Medical Boards is formally putting together an “interstate compact” to increase the efficiency in the licensing of physicians who practice is multiple states. Interstate compacts are formal agreements between states that have been successfully utilized to help state governments facilitate a wide range of activities that cross state lines, eliminating the need for federal intervention. This will help telemedicine and physicians who physically practice in multiple states. The FSMB is doing this because they support technology.
How do you feel about telemedicine?
While telemedicine or telehealth may be relatively new, the FSMB has had policy on this going back almost 20 years when this first started happening with internet pharmacies and the general development of the internet. The FSMB has a task force that is currently looking at what people are doing and at the advances in technologies and putting together some recommendations for the state boards so that they can put together rules and regulations that enable telemedicine to move forward so that patient protection is paramount.
What do you think of social media in the lives of physicians these days?
I think it is almost indispensable–almost everybody is using social media. At the FSMB, we did a study to look at physicians and social media. We were a little shocked that the majority of state medical boards had actually disciplined doctors who had used social media the wrong way. While social media can be a great way to connect with patients and the public, we were a little alarmed that sometimes social media can be used the wrong way.
The original study found three uncommon but alarming problems. First, a few physicians were claiming credentials that they didn’t have. The second is that some physicians were promising “a cure.” Finally, another very few were engaging with patients in inappropriate ways.
This study led us to partner with the American College of Physicians (ACP) to write a policy statement for the physician use of social media. These guidelines were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 16, 2013 called “Online Medical Professionalism: Patient and Public Relationships: Policy Statement from the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards.” Highlighted recommendations can be found in bullet form at the American College of Physician website. Indeed, the Massachusetts chapter of the ACP held a “Physicians and Social Media: Keeping it Professional” conference on October 9, 2013 to discuss the recommendations, which MedTech Boston covered.
We advocate for two basic principles. First, pause before you send. Second, we recommend keeping your personal profile separate from your professional profile. I personally have a closed personal profile on Facebook. This is for my family and close friends. The FSMB has a Facebook presence that I use for my professional communications.
You have a Facebook page, Twitter handle, and Linkedin Profile. Which is the easiest to use? Which was the hardest to use?
Probably LinkedIn is the easiest because there’s not much I have to do. Twitter was perhaps the most challenging to use. When I was a health commissioner, I found that Twitter was very useful to deal with situations such as the H1N1 outbreak. But in my current position, I was more hesitant to use Twitter. But my staff encouraged me. And now I have like 400 tweets in the last 1-2 years. And I like it and enjoy the communication. I use it mostly to share articles that I read about patient protection and healthcare. I will sometimes tweet about a great dinner I had. It is something that I’ve embraced, and I hope other physicians will too.
Which social media venue has been the most beneficial for your career?
I”m not sure. I think that networking of any kind is beneficial.
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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