American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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President’s Column

Fewer hassles, better quality: four promises from the College

From the May 2001 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright © 2001 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

At the end of Annual Session last month, the College began a “new” year. Your newly-elected leaders, Bernard Rosof, FACP, Chair of the Board of Regents; Lynn Kirk, FACP, Chair of the Board of Governors; and I eagerly look forward to serving you.

The College begins its new year as the largest specialty organization in American medicine. As an organization, we are fiscally sound and have a nationally acclaimed management team. We are in a better position to enhance the practice of internal medicine and improve patient care more than ever before.

To help us direct our efforts, we’ve chosen a familiar benchmark. Simply put, whatever we do this year, whenever we prioritize the many meritorious projects we embark upon, we will use one simple litmus test: How does this effort enhance the quality and value of our interactions with patients?

Using that benchmark as a guide, I’d like to make four promises.

Improved knowledge and skills

The College will help every member bring a higher level of scientific knowledge and clinical skills to patient care. Many of you are already enjoying the exciting new graphic format of MKSAP 12 and the enormous sense of renewal you experience at the College’s regional meetings. But more is coming.

We stand at the threshold of a new, previously unimaginable way to give physicians information and help with decision-making at the point of care. The College’s exciting Physician Information and Educational Resource (PIER) is a new Web-based decision support tool designed to quickly give internists the evidence-based information they need in the exam room or at the bedside.

Eventually, physicians will use PIER on a variety of platforms, including laptop computers and wireless hand-held computers. PIER will give physicians access to selected College information and education content and will eventually be linked to medical records in physicians’ practices.

Through PIER, we promise to provide members with clear, unbiased, trustworthy information where they need it: at the point of care.

The practice environment

We promise an improved practice environment that gives you more time to see patients and access to a more diverse patient population. We will do this by maintaining the College’s preeminent position among membership organizations in promoting universal access to health care.

Daniel D. Federman, MACP, this year’s Annual Session keynote speaker, made a statement that stuck with me. Isn’t it ironic, he asked, that in the very year when the human genome has been parsed, an individual’s ZIP code is far more predictive of health status than his or her genetic code?

Through our advocacy efforts, the College will continue to support patient rights legislation to give internists and their patients more freedom. We will advocate for unfettered referrals for patients and prescribing based solely on our patients’ clinical needs.

We will also advocate for physicians’ time, a precious commodity in patient care that is growing increasingly scare. We will support groundbreaking legislative efforts to reduce Medicare paperwork, streamline documentation and reduce burdensome, illogical review mechanisms. We promise to advocate for better access to patients and more quality time with them.

Quality of care

We promise more tools to help continuously improve the quality of care for our patients.

The Institute of Medicine’s reports on safety and quality will likely produce a national effort this year to eliminate errors. Much of the attention has focused on hospital-related safety issues and less on the ambulatory environment where many of us work. We are fortunate that Dr. Rosof, who brings extensive experience in patient safety, will help guide the College’s efforts to improve safety in the ambulatory environment.

You will hear from Dr. Kirk about educational materials suitable for regional meetings that explain the importance of a systems approach to error reduction. Annals of Internal Medicine will also publish a series on this subject.

The College will support legislation that encourages voluntary, nonpunitive reporting of “near misses” and other unreported events that are familiar to most internists. We promise that America’s internists will be the most informed group of physicians regarding this issue.

Listening

Finally, I’d like to make the most important promise of all: We will listen.

While the College is a large organization, we have never been so well-equipped to communicate with members. If we are off track, tell us through your Governor or College representatives at regional meetings, or contact us directly through the College’s Web site, ACP–ASIM Online (www.acponline.org). Our phone and fax numbers, as well as e-mail addresses, are listed on the site. You will get a response. This we promise.

William J. Hall, FACP

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