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Regents discuss PAC, recertification, new partnership, more

ACP leaders approved a new educational alliance as well as measures that should benefit young physicians

From the December ACP Observer, copyright 2003 by the American College of Physicians.

At its October meeting, the Board of Regents discussed a wide range of topics related to physicians' educational and practice needs. Here is an overview of the board's actions:

  • PAC. On the question of whether to establish a political action committee (PAC), the Regents asked ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee to examine the issue and report back.

    At ACP's Board of Governors meeting this fall, the Governors recommended that ACP Services Inc. form a PAC. The PAC would be financially independent from the College because IRS rules prohibit nonprofit organizations like ACP from engaging in substantial lobbying and related activities. This restriction does not apply to ACP Services Inc., a separate nonprofit corporation formed to provide advocacy, practice management and other services to members. All PAC contributions would be on a strictly voluntary basis.

    The committee is scheduled to report back to the Regents at their January 2004 meeting.

  • Recertification. The Regents approved a recommendation from the Governors' fall meeting that pertains to recertification. The resolution calls on the Regents to direct the ACP representatives to the Liaison Committee for Recertification of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to propose an alternative recertification pathway for both internal medicine and subspecialties based on a literature-based continuous medical education model.

    The liaison committee brings together representatives from the College, the ABIM and subspecialty organizations to discuss the recertification process. The group meets twice a year.

  • Young physicians. The Regents approved several measures geared toward young internists. The board voted to establish a residency fair sponsored by the Council of Student Members at Annual Session. The first fair will be held at the 2005 Annual Session in San Francisco.

    The Regents also voted to support the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine's proposal to establish a uniform fellowship application process modeled on the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). The proposal would set uniform fellowship application start and conclusion dates, and encourage training programs to comply with a uniform application process.

  • Facility safety and tobacco warnings. The Regents voted to advocate for legislation that would make it illegal to carry firearms into health care facilities, except for law enforcement or security personnel.

    They also approved a recommendation to encourage legislation to expand warning labels on cigarette packages. The recommendation calls for larger warning labels as well as language on nicotine addiction.

  • Health care information technology. The Regents approved a preliminary report on interoperable health care information networks. "Interoperability" refers to the ability to transmit electronic information seamlessly among different information systems.

    While health care needs these networks, the report said, the creation of networks as well as the adoption of electronic medical records and e-prescribing cannot lead to unfunded mandates that force physician practices to adopt new technologies.

    The preliminary report will become part of a policy paper on health care information networks that will be published next year.

  • "ACP Medicine." The Regents approved entering into a partnership with the online information service company WebMD. According to the proposed terms of the agreement, WebMD will use the name "ACP Medicine" to replace "Scientific American Medicine." "ACP Medicine" content will be updated quarterly and available in a variety of formats including a two-volume medical textbook, CD-ROM, online service and a printed loose-leaf format.

    The College's Executive Vice President will have approval authority over the choice of the "ACP Medicine" editor. WebMD has agreed to peer review all new "ACP Medicine" content, consistent with ACP peer-review standards. ACP guidelines will be incorporated into the new edition of "ACP Medicine", which will be available in April 2004. ACP members will receive discounts on all versions of "ACP Medicine."

    Under the proposed terms, WebMD will help integrate content from "ACP Medicine" into the resources section of the Physicians' Information and Education Resource (PIER). This PIER content will be made available to College members at no additional cost.

  • The Herbert S. Waxman Award. The Regents approved establishing the Herbert S. Waxman Award to honor an outstanding medical student educator. The award, which will be given for the first time at the 2005 Annual Session, is named for Herbert S. Waxman, FACP, the College's former Senior Vice President for Medical Knowledge and Education. Dr. Waxman died in early 2003.

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