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ACP Moves Forward to Invigorate Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine Leaders Progress on Revitalization of Specialty

NEW ORLEANS -- (April 22, 2004) Leaders of the American College of Physicians (ACP), present in New Orleans this week, discussed their efforts to address educational, professional, financial, legislative and quality-of-life issues that impact patient care and internal medicine.

ACP, the largest internal medicine group in the United States, is helping to facilitate a national initiative to address the challenges in today's health care environment that affect patient care and compromise the future of primary care.

The organization is collaborating on the initiative with the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the Society of General Internal Medicine, the Society of Hospital Medicine, the Council of Subspecialty Societies and other organizations. ACP students, associates and young physicians, internists practicing in hospital and community/office settings, general internists and internal medicine subspecialists are a very important part of the initiative.

"No one organization or entity or group of physicians can accomplish the complex goal of revitalizing internal medicine," said Mary Herald, MD, FACP, chair of the ACP Board of Regents. "Together with our colleagues, we've defined the core challenges and are poised to move surely and confidently toward those goals."

As a result of an ACP-hosted summit meeting of all participating organizations, four overarching goals were set to achieve the revitalization of internal medicine:

  • Repair a dysfunctional payment system, by reforming parts of the current system, developing new models of care and payment, and addressing medical education issues such as mounting student debt and declining funding of medical education.
  • Improve efficiency in practice and reduce hassles, though recommendations for practice improvement, innovation and appropriate-quality care.
  • Define the value of internal medicine to the public and the health care system.
  • Develop education and training for a new world, by revamping current and traditional training programs and designing new residency and ongoing education programs around multidisciplinary teams, coordination of care, disease management and quality improvement.

"ACP is committed to revitalizing the practice of internal medicine by restructuring a system to focus on quality patient care linked to scientific innovation and discovery," said Munsey S. Wheby, MD, FACP, president of ACP.

Earlier this week, at the governance meetings preceding ACP's Annual Session, the ACP Board of Regents considered new policies that called for standards to significantly improve exchange of electronic health care information and suggested using the patient-physician relationship as a mechanism for revitalization.

These new policies build on earlier efforts. ACP's revitalization effort dates to 2002, when the organization's governing boards declared revitalization a priority for all boards, committees and administration. Since then, the College has issued an ongoing series of revitalization position papers: "Recommendations on Reducing Medical Student Debt" (July 2003); "Time, Time Perception and the Patient-Physician Relationship" (March 2003); "Reimbursing Physicians for Computer-Based Care" (March 2003), "Reimbursing Physicians for Telephone Care" (July 2003), "The Paperless Medical Office: Digital Technology's Potential for the Internist" (January 2004).

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical-specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults, reflected in the organization's trademarked phrase Doctors of Internal Medicine. Doctors for Adults.

Susan C. Anderson, 215-351-2653 or 800-523-1546, ext. 2653

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