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Message from the CMS President

Reaffirming Our Legacy

THIS MONTH a new magazine section—“Healthcare Innovation in Chicago”—debuts. Experts from academic centers, hospitals and tech incubators, among others, will be writing on a regular basis about research and other projects at their institutions. We begin with an article about the uses of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Separately, the cover story looks at how health insurers are turning to blockchain technology as a result of network adequacy laws that require accurate physician directories. Your Chicago Medical Society was the starting point for Illinois’ law. We were the first to investigate the problem and to lay out the legislative provisions of a bill in a resolution to the ISMS. CMS’ groundwork laid the foundation for Illinois’ Network Adequacy and Transparency Act.

As we look ahead, we’re also going back into our time vault. During the next few months, we’ll be reprinting articles written for the Chicago Medical Society’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2000. You can learn about (or be refreshed on) CMS’ history and our early leaders who worked to raise medical education standards, promote public health, and combat quackery. The series will conclude with an update on recent accomplishments.

Back in 1850, the year of CMS’ birth, anarchy was rampant in medicine. Our founders wanted higher, more uniform educational standards. The Medical Society thus began to screen and admit for membership only those practitioners who had the requisite medical education.

Early CMS leaders fought to improve public health. We campaigned for a working sewer system, posted quarantines and inspected pest houses. CMS formed a milk commission, lobbied to enact pure-food legislation, and to abolish patent medicine and advertising. In the 1950s, CMS founded an emergency house call service and was honored for working day and night to avert a full-scale polio epidemic through inoculation.

The Medical Society also created a forum for members to learn about new scientific theories emerging out of European medical institutions. CMS hosted lectures for members and even the public. Our physicians volunteered their time to teach medical students.

Chicago’s early doctors worked long, hard hours with minimal pay, often with barter as their only means of existence. Quite a few physicians were forced to have a second “trade” to supplement their incomes. Yet by 1905, CMS was the largest local medical organization in the world.

Some might question our relevance today. My response is that while the issues may change, other things don’t such as the need for education and for public health policy. That’s why our educational programs now help physicians with the legal and regulatory forces reshaping the practice environment. And why our public health focus has shifted to gun violence, opioids, tobacco and nicotine, and hands-only CPR. Our original goals remain strong arguments for having a vibrant Chicago Medical Society in 2018.

We still represent and unite all medical specialties, creating a bridge and connector in the local community, while also bringing your voice to Washington through our legislative outreach.

As we look back and move forward, please share your thoughts on how we can maintain together a strong and resilient Chicago Medical Society because your voice is our voice and we take the opinions of our membership seriously!

Vemuri S. Murthy, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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