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

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Policy briefs

From the July-August ACP Observer, copyright 2006 by the American College of Physicians.

ACP urges support for information technology funding

The College last month asked Congress to support the administration's request for $169 million to help fund health information technology (HIT).

In a June 12 letter sent to members of the House committee on appropriations, ACP pointed out that the funds are part of the administration's 2007 budget. Of that amount, $116 million would go to the office of the national coordinator for HIT, which was established in 2004.

In fiscal year 2006, that office used $36.1 million to award contracts to help develop interoperability for information technology software, set certification standards, and address privacy and security concerns. The additional funds would be used to further those goals.

The budget request also includes $50 million for programs administered by the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) to advance the use of information technology that would enhance patient safety. AHRQ’s previous investment in hospital safety has already demonstrated the importance of patient safety reporting systems, computerized practitioner order entry and decision support systems, the letter said.

ACP was one of close to 20 signatories on the letter, which included national employers, such as Eastman Kodak Co. and Intel.

The letter is online.

College outlines plan for price transparency

The College has sent recommendations to the Bush administration on price "transparency," which refers to consumers' ability to find out the cost of health care services.

While ACP expressed support for transparency in a recent letter to the administration, the College pointed out problems with current approaches. The letter, from Joseph W. Stubbs, FACP, Chair of ACP’s Medical Services Committee, pointed out that physician fees for a specific service have little relationship to the total cost of care.

The letter made short-term recommendations for introducing price transparency on a voluntary basis, including:

  • Modifying the publicly accessible Medicare physician fee schedule database to offer a Web site with physician fees for Medicare enrollees.
  • Having private insurers publish negotiated rates they pay physicians for individual services.
  • Having physicians post on their practice Web site the retail price of their 10 most commonly furnished services or procedures, to help self-pay patients.

Dr. Stubbs also wrote that new payment models proposed by ACP—such as the advanced medical home model—would allow consumers to make a more comprehensive assessment of both the cost and quality of physician services.

The letter is online. Also see "The promise and challenge of health care 'transparency' " in the May ACP Observer.

Time to pay your chapter dues

When you receive your national ACP dues notice, remember to include chapter dues in your payment.

Chapter dues provide the primary support for local initiatives and are vital to the success of your chapter. Activities supported by chapter dues include educational meetings, mentoring programs for medical students, local Associates’ research competitions, and advocacy with state legislators and chapter leaders’ participation in Leadership Day. Chapter dues also help offset the cost of local support staff and provide funding for new and existing chapter initiatives.

ACP's Annual Session gets name change

Annual Session is now "Internal Medicine 2007."

ACP has changed the name of its national annual meeting to increase the visibility of internal medicine, a key College goal. Registration discounts are now in effect through July 31, 2006.

Internal Medicine 2007, formerly Annual Session, is ACP’s premier scientific meeting and will be held in San Diego from April 19-21, 2007. The new name will help link the College’s annual scientific meeting to the field of internal medicine.

Members who register for Internal Medicine 2007 by July 31, 2006, will receive $120 savings on registration fees and become eligible to win free airfare to San Diego. Early registrants also get first choice of housing accommodations to ensure the widest hotel selection. More information and registration are online.

ACP helps host update in quality, PFP

This fall, the College is teaming up with Harvard Medical School to help practicing physicians get up to date in quality and efficiency initiatives and in pay-for-performance programs.

The two-day "2006 Update in Healthcare Quality, Efficiency, and Pay for Performance," being held in Boston Oct. 20-21, 2006, will bring together authorities from the medical, insurance, business and policy professions. Among other topics, experts will present a state-of-the-art review on the following:

  • measuring quality in practice
  • establishing the evidence base for practice improvement
  • defining efficiency measures
  • using payment incentives for physician accountability

The course will offer up to 13 category 1 credits and meets CME requirements in patient safety/risk management mandated in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

For more information, visit online or call the Harvard Medical School department of continuing education at 617-384-8600, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. (ET).

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