The landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation resembles a compass reading more than a specific GPS location. Healthcare is currently navigating the early stages of the new ACA landscape with its broad implications gradually emerging. Massive demographic changes, such as the shift to geriatric care, are causing unprecedented changes in practice process and patient care technology.

In this new age of health care, doctors must find, invent, and adopt:

  • New insights,
  • New leadership skills, and
  • New care delivery practices.

Dr. Crystal Holmes was sworn in as MPMA president in January. Profiles magazine caught up with her recently to get her take on the future of health care.MAPMA (41 of 55)

Q: What are you most excited about for the future of the profession?
A: I am excited about our ability to improve the quality of our patients’ lives every day. Whether it’s correcting a deformity, diagnosing a skin cancer, or helping a patient overcome a serious infection, podiatric physicians can make a tremendous impact on our patient’s lives. This is great for the future of our profession but, more importantly, for the future of our community.

Q: What obstacles must be overcome?
A: I think all physicians have a love/hate relationship with EMR. In theory, using this technology should have significantly improved quality of care, but that’s not exactly what has happened. Podiatric physicians and all health professionals are under increased scrutiny, time constraints, and seemingly endless bureaucracy. While EMR systems allow for remarkable and sometimes valuable data collection, it creates a large deficit in patient-doctor relationships. To really improve the quality of our patient care, we must find creative solutions that allow us to both use EMR and engage with our patients.

Q: Do you see ICD-10 as friend or foe?
A: Neither. ICD–10 is a part of the constantly changing landscape of our healthcare system.

Q: Can you name a person who has had a major impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
A: I have a mentorship team that guides me both professionally and personally. My former residency director, Dr. Lawrence Harkless, has an enthusiasm for learning that motivates and inspires me. He’s a true pioneer in our profession. My best friend and husband provides a perspective on medicine-related issues that’s unique and refreshing. That’s important to me personally.

Q: What are the most important decisions you will make as a leader of the MPMA?
A: Over the next year, I will ask the membership to make a pivotal decision about the direction of the MPMA. I am extremely fortunate that my predecessors have left the MPMA in such a strong position. We have a strong membership base, fiscal stability, and proven success in our educational ventures. Now is the time, I believe, for us to take a more active and robust approach to resolve recurrent issues related to parity.

Q: As organizations age and grow, there can often be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you prevent this from happening?
A: By focusing on improving in every possible way every day.

Q: Where do the great ideas come from in the MPMA organization?
A: One word: members! Our members are phenomenal. We have so many great, hard-working individuals who make sure the MPMA is one of the most vibrant and productive state organizations in the country. Our membership is our most valuable resource.

Q: What is the one characteristic that you believe every MPMA leader should have?
A: During my speech at last month’s meeting, I reflected on the great leadership of the MPMA and the common characteristics our leaders share. Dr. Irvin Kanat and Dr. Glen Gastwirth embody our MPMA leadership core values: Do what is best for the MPMA membership and what is best for the profession.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing podiatrists today?
A: Parity. The podiatric profession has changed tremendously. We are an integral part of the healthcare team. I think the most obvious example of this is our ability to positively impact the lives of patients with diabetes and the prevention of lower extremity complications. Our podiatric students have four years of medical school, three years of residency training, and a focus on the lower extremity, the same as allopathic and osteopathic students. We are not asking for an exception. Seeking parity in areas where education and training are equivalent is reasonable.

Q: What are the top resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better podiatrist?
A: I have three recommendations:

First, be a lifelong learner. As podiatric physicians, we often think about lifelong learning related to medicine, such as reading journals and learning new surgical techniques. But in this day and age, lifelong learning in medicine also extends to technology. Our ability to accept and adapt will make our lives and our patients’ lives better.

Second, be appreciative. Appreciate all the gifts given to us in health, family and resources. Use these gifts and focus on making a difference in the lives of your patients, your colleagues, and your community.

Third, be active. Participate in membership meetings, attend educational programs, and donate to the APMA and the MPMA PAC, which supports active lobbying in our interests. Mentor our young members who are our greatest resources.

Q: What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
A: Seek insight and guidance. Make a difference. Enjoy the journey.