Dr. Ethan MosesWe’re pleased to profile X.J. Ethan “Mojo” Moses, M.D., MPH, the new associate medical director of the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation (DOWC). Appointed to this position in August, Dr. Moses also serves as chief medical officer at Peak Form Medical Clinic, assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and CU School of Medicine, and president of the Rocky Mountain Academy of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Moses carved out time to visit with Provider Pulse and share his thoughts and priorities with Pinnacol’s community of providers across Colorado.

Q: Thanks for visiting with us, Dr. Moses. How did you get your nickname, “Mojo”?
A: I served in Iraq as an Air Force flight surgeon doing aeromedical evacuations under fire. Sometimes our equipment would go on the fritz, and I had a knack for finding the fix. For this reason, medical technicians said I was the doc with the mojo. Others picked up on it and, well, I was dubbed Mojo or Dr. Mojo from that point on.

Q: What will be your role at the DOWC?
A: The role’s quite large, and I feel like I’m drinking from multiple fire hydrants at once. I’ll be supporting Dr. Kathryn Mueller, the medical director. She’s been a fantastic mentor over the years. A primary focus will be provider education, our accreditation seminars. I’ll consult and advise on any aspect of DOWC work that requires clinical guidance. This guidance may include Division Independent Medical Exams, the fee schedule, the utilization review process, and relations with medical organizations and insurers. I’ll advise providers on DOWC rules, regulations, and treatment guidelines and revisions, as well as their impact on medical practices. Additionally, I’ll assist with pilot projects across Colorado, such as new treatment initiatives.

Q: Work at the DOWC comes on top of your work for Peak Form Medical Clinic and several organizations. What motivated you to take on the role with the DOWC?
A: Dr. Mueller’s been a mentor, and the chance to work for her was too great an opportunity to pass up. More broadly, I really appreciate the work of the DOWC. A tremendous team of people here work tirelessly to make Colorado’s workers’ compensation system function smoothly. I’ve seen this up close through my work on its task forces, panels and physician accreditation. I want to be a part of sustaining and even improving upon the DOWC’s success in the years ahead.

Q: What are your priorities in the next few months?
A: Certainly, provider education. One priority will be to update our online learning system to further improve this experience for providers who cannot attend live seminars. Another short-term goal is to ensure the smooth implementation of the recently updated Rule 11 for Division Independent Medical Exams. Effective Jan. 1, this rule will increase reimbursement for the physicians who serve on our panel of Division examiners [for Independent Medical Exams]; it’ll enable us to make it easier for a greater number of physicians to participate on the panel. Additionally, I’ll work with the team here to complete development of the next round of accreditation seminars and lectures. We aim to make the content even higher-impact, higher-yield.

Q: Looking ahead, what are the opportunities for Colorado providers in occupational medicine?
A: I see two main opportunities. One is to come to the forefront in managing Colorado’s opioid epidemic. The second is to help the health system at large begin to focus on functional outcomes. By this I mean the ability to perform activities of daily living — the recovery of function at work, home and play. I believe that better function equals a better outcome. And while quality measures such as evidence-based guidelines are incorporated into healthcare delivery, functional outcomes are not. Colorado’s occupational medicine community, in partnership with the DOWC, can lead this charge to integrate functional outcomes in measuring improvement in the quality of injured workers’ lives.

Q: Thinking back, tell our readers about an experience as a clinician that’s stayed with you.
A: My first night on call as an intern at a hospital. It was my first rotation, in obstetrics. While talking to one expectant mother, I heard from down the hall, “Help, help! There’s a foot hanging out!” I dashed down the hall to find a young woman giving birth. One foot had emerged from the birth canal. The infant’s foot was blue, so I was worried. Trying my best to recall my training and certification, I delivered a premature but healthy baby while someone paged the attending physician. The baby was breathing fine and did well. I’ll never forget that experience fresh out of med school.

Q: You’ve had many experiences with other physicians. Please share one that stands out.
A: During my fourth year of med school, I spent three months in Uganda, working at a community hospital with Dr. Scott Kellermann, a fellow alum of Tulane University known as “Uganda’s doctor.” Working closely together, we treated the Batwa, an indigenous people. This experience taught me the importance of the biopsychosocial model of medicine, of treating the whole person rather than just the biomechanical parts. My time with Dr. Kellermann taught me what it means to be a true healer.

Q: Who in your life most influences how you go about your work?
A: My wife, Debra. She rarely hesitates to give me excellent, honest advice on the care of patients and how this can affect so many people. Debra’s my sounding board, my confidant. She’s the smartest person I know. Debra and I are foster parents, too, and we work closely with nonprofits such as Foster Source and Foster Together. Debra shares these values, and together we make the foster community the biggest part of our lives outside of work.

Q: Thank you for your time, Dr. Moses. Any parting thoughts you wish to leave with Colorado’s occupational medicine providers?
A: You’re very welcome. My final thought is that function matters. Better function equals a better outcome. We’ve long used functional screenings for research and to determine if interventions can help. But we’ve largely neglected to use functional outcomes to measure if we physicians are improving patients’ quality of life. This is a new concept, and I encourage occupational medicine providers and the greater healthcare system to embrace it.

Meet Dr. Moses in 2019

Dr. Moses will be speaking at the upcoming Caring for Injured Workers – Therapy Collaboration and Utilization training event, hosted by Pinnacol Assurance. Join us on Jan. 10, 2019, in Denver for an interactive program about optimal clinical outcomes for therapy, evidence-based delivery of healthcare services and setting realistic expectations for care. 

This complimentary training event includes a question-and-answer session, networking and lunch. We created the content specifically with physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists and administrative staff in mind.