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Regents pave way for broader focus on information technology

From the March ACP Observer, copyright 2005 by the American College of Physicians.

At its January meeting, the Board of Regents discussed a wide range of topics related to a growing emphasis on quality improvement and health information technology. Among actions taken, the Board moved to expand the College's focus on health information technology and to increase input from young physician members.

The Board voted to give a broader role within the College to the Medical Informatics Subcommittee. The Subcommittee will be expanded from eight to 11 members, with new representatives coming from the Publications/PIER Committee, the Performance Measurement Subcommittee and an outside organization dedicated to health technology.

The change reflects the increasing role of medical informatics and information technology in public policy decisions, with a growing emphasis on improving quality and coordination of patient care. The subcommittee will make public policy recommendations to ACP's Medical Service Committee and provide guidance on information technology adoption and use.

The Subcomittee also will advise the College on important legislative and regulatory issues related to interoperable health care system standards. And it will help respond to members' needs for educational products geared to incorporating technology into practice redesign.

The Regents also held breakout sessions to identify ways the College can help members engage in new quality improvement efforts. Those sessions generated several topics—such as developing quality initiatives and templates that practices can use—that College leadership will develop further in future meetings.

The Regents also approved or discussed the following items:

  • Perioperative pulmonary complications guideline. The Board approved a new guideline developed by the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee on reducing perioperative pulmonary complications. The guideline, which outlines risk stratification for and strategies to reduce perioperative pulmonary complications for patients at high risk, was designed to help internists provide care to patients in the hospital setting. The guideline has been submitted for publication.

  • Drug reimportation. The Regents voted to modify College policy on drug reimportation to be more responsive to patients' needs for reduced drug costs. ACP policy previously opposed reimportation until safety concerns raised by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration were resolved.

    The new policy states that "ACP supports legislative and/or regulatory measures to develop a process to ascertain and certify the safety of reimported prescription drugs."

  • Young physicians. The Board approved converting ACP's Young Physicians Subcommittee to a Council of Young Physicians. The newly formed council, with 11 members and representation on the Boards of Governors and Regents, is designed to help the College get more input from younger members on programs, products and services.

  • Associate representation. The Regents voted to add a seat on the Council of Subspecialty Societies for an Associate member in a subspecialty training program. The decision is part of ACP's effort to increase subspecialist membership and create a larger role for associates.

  • Chronic care pilot projects. The Board also heard a status report on ACP's involvement in federal quality improvement and health information technology initiatives. ACP is partnering with two of the winning bidders in Medicare's chronic care improvement program pilot projects: McKesson Health Solutions in Mississippi, and Health Dialog Services Corp. in Pennsylvania. The College chose these partners because they support a physician-centered chronic care model for patients with complex diabetes and/or congestive heart failure.

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