ISMS Is Here for Physicians, Now and Always

ISMS President
Piyush I. Vyas, M.D.

April 17, 2024

I am truly honored to have been inducted as the 175th President of our Illinois State Medical Society. It is truly a highlight of my career to serve as your President, and I am privileged to represent the physicians of Illinois for the next year.

I have been a member of ISMS for 40 years, and in that time, I have witnessed many innovative changes in how medicine is practiced – some good and some not so good. In fact, it was my interest in the new technologies of ultrasound and CT imaging that originally motivated me to choose a residency in radiology. From the introduction of computers to the widespread adoption of the internet, to the shift toward electronic health records – the practice of medicine today is fundamentally different than it was at the start of my career.

We are living in a time of constant change, and the pace of change to which we must adapt will only continue to accelerate. However, through each change, each challenge, and each opportunity, the Illinois State Medical Society has been there for us. Since 1840, ISMS has been a source of stability and reliability. ISMS provides the information we need to navigate our ever-changing field, defend our interests, and ensure that our voices are heard.

The next revolution in medicine is already under way. Artificial intelligence is poised to change our work in ways that we are only beginning to grasp. Predictive models based in AI machine learning may help physicians to recognize patterns in health data and imaging studies to improve our diagnosis of complex diseases and conditions. Imagine a world where AI can help us to design treatment plans are patient-centered and increase adherence based on existing behaviors and social determinants of health.

But AI may also create new challenges to physicians’ scope of practice and further encroach upon our position as the leader of the healthcare team. Non-physician healthcare professionals could point to “virtual” or “AI Assistants” to justify further scope expansions. For years, ISMS has fought efforts from a range of healthcare professionals seeking independent practice or expanded ability to treat patients at the same level as medical doctors.

In the current legislative session, ISMS is engaged in fighting national pharmacy chains who are looking to expand their business models by giving already overworked pharmacists the ability to “test to treat.” This practice would give pharmacists the authority to diagnose, prescribe for, and treat a broad range of potentially serious health conditions beyond their training and education. ISMS is committed to fighting this overreach and protecting the interests of physicians, just as we always have, and just as we always will.

Al-generated images and the recent rise in “deepfakes” can further contribute to the existing crisis in health-related misinformation online. Our Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has described this as a major public health threat. Social media sites such as Tik Tok and X provide a platform to so-called “wellness influencers” with little to no medical training, who have unfettered access to millions of followers. On these sites they promote discredited medical theories, question the efficacy of vaccines, recommend dangerous alternatives to accepted treatments such as chemotherapy, and promote unproven supplements and products in which they have a financial stake.

A 2021 research letter published in JAMA indicated that 70% of physicians at top U.S. hospitals have profiles on major social media platforms, but of those, 90% post less than once a month. Physicians are uniquely qualified to advise on matters of public and personal health – no other healthcare professionals receive more training and education. Physicians have the experience to be a trusted voice in the digital fray, and yet, we often remain silent online – where so many of our patients spend their time.

This is why ISMS is more important than ever in the struggle to amplify and magnify the voices of physicians. Our Illinois State Medical Society fills a void in the health information space by offering free education not only to member physicians but also to the public – to make sure we are heard.

ISMS members can satisfy all state-mandated CME requirements to maintain our medical licensure in Illinois through our Education Center as a member benefit. Members can also sign up for free webinars on the latest regulatory changes, legislative developments in Springfield and stay informed of the latest hot topics in medicine. This year, ISMS also collaborated with the AMA to promote Project Firstline, an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide education about infection prevention and control to healthcare professionals, including how to mitigate the spread of infection within healthcare facilities.

ISMS publishes member resources on a range of topics that ensure that we have the latest information at our fingertips when communicating with patients. At every turn, ISMS is there for us, arming us with the education, tools and resources we need to serve our patients while protecting ourselves in a changing practice environment.

Finally, ISMS is active in promoting science-based information to our patient populations. This year, ISMS is running three public service announcements on local radio stations covering topics such as respiratory health, antibiotic overuse, and the importance of maintaining a relationship with a physician.

The ISMS social media channels and publications also routinely share valuable information with the public in conjunction with national days of awareness and other public health initiatives. These efforts are part of our mission to educate, advocate for, and support the health and wellbeing of the people of Illinois and the physicians who care for them.

As we move forward in an era of AI assisted medicine, there is reason for great hope and great concern. But I have faith that ISMS will be there to guide the way and protect the interests of physicians.

I leave you with one final thought: the Illinois State Medical Society was founded in 1840 – before Louis Pasteur advanced the germ theory of disease, before Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-ray, and before Joseph Lister pioneered antiseptic practices. We are practicing in a world that our founders could not have imagined, and yet, we are still here, carrying out the work that was started all those years ago. ISMS has always been here for the physicians of Illinois, and we will continue to be there to fight for Illinois physicians and improve the practice of medicine in our state.

Throughout my term as president, I can be contacted at Please don't hesitate to reach out any time!

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