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


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From the May ACP Observer, copyright 2006 by the American College of Physicians.

New ACP center kicks off second phase

ACP's new Center for Practice Innovation (CPI) is up and running to meet a major need: helping small and midsized practices decide which strategies can boost quality improvement efforts.

The center, funded by the Physicians' Foundation for Health Systems Excellence, is charged with devising redesign strategies for smaller practices.

The CPI staff have already completed the first phase of that mission, recruiting more than 30 practices—culled from 133 practice applicants nationwide—for the CPI's in-depth pilot project. Representing a wide range of urban, suburban and rural practices, participating physicians have signed on to work with the CPI over the next two years to find out which practice-level innovations best support quality improvement—and how those innovations affect revenue.

"We'll help physicians objectively assess their practice, from front desk operations to how the practice communicates with patients between visits," said Michael S. Barr, FACP, CPI Director and ACP's Vice President for Practice Advocacy and Improvement. "While we'll tailor strategies to each practice, our goals at each site are the same: improve workflow and operations through smart redesign." Among the strategies to be considered is the implementation of information technology.

Site visits begin

Later this month, the CPI staff will begin visiting each site to assess current workflow, chronic care and information technology resources, and ancillary services.

Close to half of participating practices are solo practitioners, while the average across all the selected groups is two physicians per practice. Nearly 30% report using electronic health records. As part of the initial assessment, practices will collect patient, staff and clinician satisfaction surveys.

After the initial visit, most sites will participate in a half-day workshop with other local participating practices. Practices too far from other participants will receive support from CPI staff right in their office.

Early innovations will be based on each practice's unique characteristics and needs, with CPI staff adapting established quality improvement resources and guidelines. The CPI plans to tap programs and products available through ACP, including the Practice Management Center, ACP Foundation and PIER.

The CPI staff will continuously interact with practices through scheduled conference calls, e-mail and a follow-up visit next year. Participating physicians will be eligible for continuing medical education credits through ACP.

The center is still deciding how practices will report data on different innovations being tested. But Dr. Barr is clear on one point: Lessons learned from the project will be shared widely through the CPI Web site, presentations and articles.

"In two years," he said, "we hope to have a much better idea of what small practices can do with limited resources and direct support from their professional society."

ACP's diabetes initiative posts impressive gains

As the College's three-year, multimillion-dollar diabetes initiative heads into its second year, the program's various components—multidisciplinary team training, patient education, physician self-assessment and the creation of multimedia educational tools—are coming together to bridge the gap between diabetes standards of care and current practice.

Michael A. Weisz, FACP, highlights the gains made through ACP's diabetes initiative.

At an Annual Session press conference, Vincenza Snow, FACP, Director for ACP's Department of Clinical Programs and Quality of Care and the initiative Director, was part of a panel that outlined the program's progress. Among those accomplishments: the development of a new self-assessment diabetes program for multidisciplinary teams and new clinical skills modules.

A patient-focused brochure on self-management for diabetes patients will be released next year in both English and Spanish, she said. And 20 practice teams of physicians and staff are now participating in a key component of the College's diabetes initiative: the "Closing the Gap" project, ACP's quality improvement program that trains teams of physicians and allied professionals to improve care for patients with diabetes.

"We know that to achieve success, no single caregiver—the doctor, diabetes educator, eye doctor, nurse, even the patient who acts as caregiver when he selects meals—can tackle this disease alone," Dr. Snow told reporters.

Michael A. Weisz, FACP, program director for internal medicine at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, said that 12 groups in his state are participating in the Closing the Gap program. Each team is testing different ways to educate patients about self-management—while all are finding that the best way to improve patient care "is to make small changes, that's the secret."

More information about Closing the Gap is online.

Call for fall 2006 Governors resolutions

The deadline for submitting new resolutions to be heard at the October 2006 Board of Governors meeting is Monday, June 5, 2006. Initiating a resolution gives ACP members an opportunity to focus attention at the national College level on an issue or topic that concerns them. Members must submit resolutions to their Governor and/or chapter council. A resolution becomes a resolution of the chapter once the chapter council approves it.

In accordance with the ACP Board of Governors resolutions process, resolutions should clearly distinguish the action requested within its resolved clause(s) as either a policy resolve ("Resolved that ACP policy…"), or a directive, which requests action or study on an issue ("Resolved that the Board of Regents…"). If more than one action is proposed, each should have its own resolved clause. Contact your Governor with any questions on the resolution format.

The Board of Governors votes on new resolutions, while those approved are presented to the Board of Regents for action. Once the Board of Regents votes on these recommendations, resolutions are adopted as policy, accepted as reaffirmation of current policy, or forwarded to College staff and/or committees for study or implementation.

It's time to renew your ACP membership

ACP members recently received an e-mail inviting them to pay their ACP membership dues for the next fiscal year. Print bills will be mailed in the middle of this month.

You may pay online through the "Pay Your Dues Link" on the secure, encrypted ACP Web site. To pay by phone or for questions, contact Customer Service at 800-523-1546, ext. 2600, or 215-351-2600 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET).

ACP membership keeps you up to date on the latest medical information, while giving you substantial discounts on many College educational products and providing support for ACP's public policy efforts. Details about ACP activities plus member benefits and services are online.


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