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American College of Physicians, May 15-17, 2008

The American College of Physicians Annual Meeting, Internal Medicine 2008

The American College of Physicians (ACP) Annual Meeting, Internal Medicine 2008, convened in Washington, D.C., May 15 to 17 and included nearly 7,000 attendees from around the world. The conference featured sessions on health care reform, the future of primary care and the e-health movement. In addition, the conference included presentations of data from recently completed and late-breaking trials and clinical sessions designed to enhance physicians' ability to diagnose and manage common conditions.

A conference highlight was a panel discussion addressing the looming shortage of primary care physicians. "Primary care medicine is in precipitous decline," declared ACP president and panel member David Dale, M.D. "Despite the important role that a primary care physician plays in the health care system, it is increasingly becoming a 'fall back' option and not a true career choice among medical students." The panel, which included practicing internists as well as leaders in the health business sector, agreed that major reforms in reimbursement policies are needed to reverse this trend.

One of the proposed solutions was the concept of the patient-centered medical home, a team-based model of care in which a primary care physician coordinates all facets of care throughout a patient's lifetime. However, in order for this model to work, the panelists agreed that restructuring of physician payment policies by Medicare and other insurers is required, allowing reimbursement for the time-consuming task of coordinating care for patients, and not just for face-to-face encounters.

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Also highlighted at the conference was the concept of e-health, or the delivery of health services and information through the Internet and related technologies. The ACP released a new position paper at the conference analyzing the impact of e-health on medicine and highlighting key areas of challenge, such as issues of confidentiality, privacy, standardization and high start-up economic costs.

In its position statement, the ACP called for collaboration between physicians, patients, technology developers and policymakers to find innovative solutions to existing barriers, allowing the implementation of e-health activities that will improve health care delivery. "E-health activities have great potential to improve the quality of patient care, reduce medical errors, increase efficiency and access to care, and achieve substantial costs savings," commented Dale in a press briefing.

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One session addressed the hospitalist movement, and included a discussion of recently published studies on hospitalist care as well as the impact of new Medicare Core measures on hospitalists. For example, the mandate that patients with community-acquired pneumonia receive antibiotics within four hours of presentation may have added substantial time pressure to physicians and led to inappropriate antibiotic use in some cases. As Joseph Li, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, a session moderator, discussed, "Nobody disputes the fact that these quality mandates have done some very good things -- but we need to be careful about unintended consequences."

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ACP: Primary Care Shortage Faced As Population Ages

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- The United States faces a looming shortage of primary care physicians to meet the health care needs of the aging population, according to a panel discussion May 16 at the American College of Physicians Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

ACP: Diabetes Initiative Plans Extended for Two Years

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- A joint Diabetes Initiative by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the ACP Foundation to improve diabetes care via a team-based approach has been successful and its funding is being renewed for an additional two years by its sponsor, Novo Nordisk, Inc. These plans were announced at a press briefing May 15 at the ACP's Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Physician's Briefing