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

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Regents discuss performance measures, medical students

From the September ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2002 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

At its July meeting, the Board of Regents discussed ways the College can help implement and streamline performance measures, attract medical students to internal medicine and retain health professionals in underserved areas.

Performance measures

The Regents generally endorse the use of performance measures to improve patient care and for accountability to outside organizations. The Regents are concerned, however, that the use of performance measures could require physicians to spend excessive amounts of time demonstrating their competence.

As a result, the Regents want the College to help facilitate internists' acceptance of performance measures, but also protect internists from excessive or unjustifiable data collection, time-consuming administrative burdens and inappropriate out-of-pocket costs. Along those lines, the Regents directed the College to take the following actions:

  • Develop and endorse appropriate policy regarding performance measures, including their characteristics, how they are used in accountability and how they are used to improve the quality of practice.

  • Use the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Program Subcommittee and other expert bodies to create performance measures from established guidelines and evaluate performance measures.

  • Disseminate useful performance measures to members.

  • Offer educational programs and information.

  • Develop tools such as software for handheld computers and electronic medical records to facilitate internists' use of performance measures, especially for practitioners in small and solo practices.

Attracting students

The Regents looked at ways to attract more medical students to careers in internal medicine. The Regents directed the College to examine the following strategies:

  • developing specific recommendations for deferring loan repayments and exchanging loan payments for service in internal medicine;

  • advocating for legislation that will improve the standing of internal medicine;

  • teaming with partners like the American Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, the Association of Professors of Medicine and the Society of General Internal Medicine;

  • improving the perceived value of internal medicine training by defining internal medicine residency tracks (hospitalist training, for example) or creating a fourth year to give training in specific skills such as noninvasive cardiology, endoscopy or microbiology;

  • establishing chapter programs, including preceptorships with mentors who are excited about the field; and

  • reshaping College services to more accurately address young physicians' concerns.

Physician shortages

In other business, the Regents took action on a statement from the Council of Associates that addresses potential cuts to Public Health Service Act and Title VII programs that help recruit and retain health professionals in underserved areas.

The statement urges the federal government to increase funding for those programs and stop a proposal from the Bush administration to cut funding by 70% in 2003. The statement also urges the federal government to refrain from adding eligibility conditions to financial assistance programs provided by the act.

The Regents forwarded the statement to the College's Health and Public Policy Committee for further study.

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