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Governors discuss recertification, electronic data costs

From the June ACP Observer, copyright 2004 by the American College of Physicians.

By Janet Colwell

NEW ORLEANS—At its April meeting, the College's Board of Governors voted to recommend that the College focus on a wide range of issues, including recertification, the costs and impact of electronic data retention, and more portable liability insurance.

Here is an overview of some of the Board's approved resolutions:

  • Recertification. In an effort to further streamline the recertification process, the Governors approved a resolution recommending that the Regents set a deadline for meeting the goals set out in a resolution passed in spring 2002.

    That resolution recommended establishing multiple pathways to recertification, as well as testing that is relevant to different practice settings.

    The resolution further recommended that the Regents assert a fundamental difference between initial certification, which confirms a strong knowledge base in internal medicine or a subspecialty, and maintenance of certification, which assesses a physician's continued professional growth.

    Richard L. Neubauer, FACP, Governor for ACP's Alaska Chapter, pointed out that assessing physicians' professional growth is part of the College's educational mission.

    "The continuation of high level of standards," he said, "is well within the purview of a professional society."

  • Liability insurance. The Governors also voted for a resolution asking the Regents to advocate for policies that would make medical liability insurance more portable. The resolution notes that as the market for liability insurance tightens, physicians are having problems changing insurance carriers. The resolution also calls for advocating for portable insurance policies that have no gap in coverage or fee or surcharge.

  • Electronic data retention costs. The Governors reaffirmed a previously approved resolution asking the Regents to participate in developing improved, interoperable computerized health records for all physicians.

    The resolution asks the Regents to represent internists' concerns in the development of those systems. Concerns include the effect on physician-patient interactions and the possible misuse of data by private insurers.

  • Cognitive function screening. The Governors also approved a resolution asking the Regents to request that a CPT code be established for validated screening of cognitive function. The new code would allow physicians to bill Medicare and other payers for screening services.

  • Educational debt. The Governors approved a resolution asking the Regents to work with the Council of Student Members to conduct a formal study of graduating medical students to determine the impact of medical educational debt on specialty choice.

    Another approved resolution asks the Regents to explore alternative mechanisms for financing undergraduate and graduate medical education, including the possibility of integrating funding for all levels of education.

  • Clinical skills assessment exam. The Governors passed a resolution recommending that the Regents oppose any development of a clinical skills assessment exam for physicians to maintain medical licensure, unless evidence shows that such an exam improves patient care and does not impose undue costs on physicians.

  • New scientific information. The Governors approved a resolution that recommends developing and implementing a program at Annual Session to allow new scientific information to be presented.

    Such a venue would give academic faculty and hospital staff an opportunity to present abstracts on new clinical information and research.

  • Prescribing for VA patients. Another approved resolution asks the Regents to work with the Veterans Administration (VA) to create a process whereby VA patients could fill prescriptions written by non-VA primary care physicians at VA pharmacies.

The Governors' recommendations now go to the Regents for further action.

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Board of Regents nominations due Aug. 2

As part of the College's ongoing effort to include members in the nominations process, the 2004-05 Nominations Committee solicits your recommendations for new Board of Regent positions that will become vacant in 2005.

Nominees should demonstrate commitment to the College, dependability, leadership qualities and the ability to represent the College in diverse arenas. Letters of nomination should highlight these characteristics and specify the reasons a nominee is qualified for the position. Regent nominees must be College Fellows or Masters.

The Nominations Committee seeks nominees who reflect the diversity of the College's membership. It is particularly interested in receiving nominations of women and ethnic minorities, as well as international medical graduates, chairs of medicine and practicing physicians.

Potential Regent candidates must have one letter of nomination and one letter of support. (The nominator must identify the author of each letter.)

Nominations for first-term Regents must contain a standard structured nominating proposal for each candidate that includes the following:

  • a brief description of his/her current activities;

  • special attributes the candidate would bring to the Board;

  • previous and current service in College-related activities;

  • service in organizations other than the College (medical and non-medical); and

  • a seconding letter.

A separate letter must be submitted for each nomination. Without the appropriate material, the nomination will not be advanced for review.

Please send your confidential nominations no later than Aug. 2 to Nominations Committee, Attn: Patricia Carter, ACP, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106-1572. If you have any questions, please e-mail Ms. Carter at pcarter@acponline.org or call 800-523-1546, ext. 2815, or 215-351-2815.

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