Regents prepare to embrace new business opportunities
By Phyllis Maguire
PHILADELPHIA—At its April meeting before Annual Session, the Board of Regents approved principles to help the College work with health information Web sites and created a new committee to boost the College's marketing efforts.
"Opportunities in electronic communications are opening up, and we need to be able to evaluate different proposals," Executive Vice President Walter J. McDonald, FACP, said at the meeting. He pointed out that the College has been approached by companies wanting to partner with the College, particularly in online ventures. "While our primary business remains education, we want to proactively pursue ways to get our educational message out without violating ethical principles or inviting conflicts of interest," Dr. McDonald said.
The Regents passed 10 principles that the College will use if it chooses to partner with a health care Web site. The principles state that if the College works with another organization to develop a Web site, ACP—ASIM should retain an active editorial role in content development and that the site must draw clear lines between editorial content and advertising. The principles also specify that the confidentiality of patient information contained on any such site should be protected. The principles also state that the College should enter into nonexclusive arrangements so that it can work with more than one organization.
To help improve public awareness of internal medicine and the College, the Board approved the formation of a new Marketing and Communications Committee. The committee is charged with directing the College's marketing efforts and helping the College gain greater visibility through new partnerships with health care businesses. C. Anderson Hedberg, FACP, Chair of the new committee, explained that the College's public awareness campaign this year will concentrate on women's health issues, the clinical theme of emerging antibiotic resistance and the new ACP—ASIM depression and sinusitis guidelines.
The Regents also took the following actions:
- The Regents refined the College's policy on drug formularies and pharmacy benefit management. The position now states that formularies should be approved on a regional basis by qualified bodies that include practicing physicians.
- The Regents approved a policy that reinforces the College's opposition to the mandatory use of hospitalists. The position authorizes the College to develop a position paper on the use of hospitalists.
- The Regents approved a position paper that supports aggressive infectious disease-testing programs in correctional settings. The paper also says that physicians who have been deemed unqualified for community practices should not be licensed to practice in prisons.
- The Regents approved principles from the Health and Public Policy Committee to help the College develop a policy in response to last year's Institute of Medicine report on medical errors. The principles state that quality improvement, not punishment, should be emphasized and that a reporting system should rely on state monitoring, not federal oversight.
- The Regents approved recommendations from the Medical Services Committee on proposed Medicare reform that oppose expanding centers of excellence and support primary care case management.
At its organizational meeting held later during Annual Session, the Regents acted on a number of resolutions referred by the Board of Governors. The Regents adopted a resolution reaffirming the College's support of a standard credentialing form that all health plans and hospitals can use. The Regents also adopted a resolution that calls on the College to seek ways to encourage physicians to pursue research careers, and they adopted a resolution directing the College to get involved in efforts to restore cuts in Medicare funding.
The Board of Regents sent several resolutions to College committees and staff for further study:
- The Regents referred a resolution that would require all U.S. College members to "make certain that their employees have health insurance coverage" to the Member insurance and Financial Services Committee and to the Health and Public Policy Committee.
- The Regents referred two resolutions on recertification to the Education Committee for evaluation. One resolution would have the College work with the American Board of Internal Medicine to simplify the recertification process. The other would grant recertification to internists who complete two consecutive editions of the College's MKSAP program.
- The Regents referred a resolution prohibiting all-products clauses to the Medical Services Committee. The Regents also referred resolutions on excessive documentation requirements and on restrictive drug formularies to the committee.
- The Regents referred to the Health and Public Policy Committee resolutions that called for Medicare coverage of annual health maintenance exams and for the College to study alternatives to employer-based insurance.
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