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MN Family Physicians Announce Publication of Recommendations to Transform and Renew Family Medicine

Tuesday, March 30, 2004  
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Future of Family Medicine Project presents new vision for patient-centered care, outlines changes needed

LEAWOOD, Kan. — A report released today by America’s family physicians calls for systemic changes to the U.S. health care system, medical education and clinical practice, and the development of a New Model of patient-centered care based on the concept of a "personal medical home” for all Americans. The recommendations from the two-year Future of Family Medicine (FFM) Project are published today in a supplement to the March/April issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

"The FFM project represents the first in-depth, critical professional assessment by a medical specialty of itself and its role in our health care system,” said Richard Gebhart, M.D., president of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing family physician in Maple Grove. "The FFM project will serve to energize the profession and its allies to get the word out about the value of having a personal physician.”

The FFM Project was initiated in 2000 to address the increasing frustration of patients and physicians with the complex and disjointed health care system.

"The recommendations are coming out as the entire healthcare industry, the insurance industry, employers, consumers and politicians see the growing dysfunction of the present system and the economic impact it is having on every business and household in the United States,” said Timothy Komoto, M.D., a family physician in Mendota Heights and an American Academy of Family Physicians board member.

Seven national family medicine organizations initiated and provided financial support for the multi-million dollar project, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, the American Board of Family Practice, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Practice Residency Directors, the North American Primary Care Research Group and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

The FFM Project recommendations are designed to stimulate and guide initial steps toward a serious revision of family medicine and health care in the United States. The vision the report presents focuses on three key areas:

Clinical Practice
In the area of clinical practice, patient, physician and practice will be integrated through a New Model of care. The New Model will be based on the concept of a personal medical home, which will be the focal point through which all individuals - regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status - participate in health care. In this new medical home, patients will receive a basket of acute, chronic and preventive medical care services that are accessible, accountable, comprehensive, integrated, patient-centered, safe, scientifically valid and satisfying to both patients and their physicians. The transformation will include physician office redesign, electronic health record systems, a team approach to managing a patient’s health care, elimination of barriers to access and enhanced practice finance.

Medical Education
Medical education, both for medical students and practicing physicians, is key to insuring the adoption and success of the New Model of care. Family physician residency training will include curriculum changes to effectively train family physicians to work within the New Model. The academic training centers will redefine and rearticulate the commitment of family medicine to community and family while addressing the declining interest in family medicine among medical students. They will train physicians who will humanize medicine, are prepared to work in a world of changing demographics, utilize the biopsychosocial model, actively measure outcomes, and adapt to and are involved in the creation of relevant new knowledge.

The formal process of lifelong learning for practicing family physicians will also be redesigned. The new developmental approach will ensure continual improvement of clinical practice skills based on evidence-based knowledge, personal development and improvement of the patient care environment, all with the goal of improving patient care.

U.S. Health Care System
Family medicine operates within a broader system that needs to support the integrated care that patients need and desire. Steps must be taken to ensure that every American has a personal medical home, basic health care coverage and protection against extraordinary health care costs. The use and reporting of quality measures should be promoted in order to enhance patient care, and research that supports the integrated care of the whole person must be funded. Reimbursement models that sustain family medicine and primary care must be developed to ensure that the New Model of care is viable.

"This will be a long process,” said James C. Martin, M.D., chair of the FFM Project Leadership Committee and a family physician in San Antonio, Texas. "Systemic change won’t occur overnight, but it will happen. In fact, we are already moving ahead in several areas with major initiatives that will affect every family physician in the country.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians launched the Electronic Health Records Initiative in 2003 with the goal of having all family physician offices in the United States using electronic health records systems by 2005. In addition, the American Board of Family Practice has already announced changes to its recertification process that will enhance the educational development of family physicians across the country.

The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians is a professional association of approximately 3,000 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students organized to assist family physicians in providing quality medical care in Minnesota. The MAFP is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota and is a state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, one of the largest national medical organizations in the United States with more than 103,000 members.

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