Archives / 2012 / November
  • Meet the new TAFP Communications Specialist, Samantha White

    Tags: communications, social media, staff

    On the eve of a recent photo shoot, I walked through my usual pre-shoot routine. Charge the battery. Empty the memory cards. Clean the lens. Load up the camera bag. A series of steps I’ve done so many times I could now complete successfully in my sleep. This shoot would be different, however. The following morning I would be shooting my first set of images for TAFP’s Texas Family Physician, a magazine I’m sure you are all aware of.

    I took over Kate’s reins as your communications specialist early in October (no worries though, she’s still around!) and have been nothing but excited about working for TAFP. She spent a few weeks teaching me much of what she knows and I feel fortunate to have her as a mentor in the position.

    Born and raised in the panhandle (mostly Lubbock), I ventured south to get my photojournalism degree from UT Austin. I’ve been here in Austin for over six years now, and am a true Texan at heart. I’ve worked as a freelance photographer for about that long as well, shooting everything from babies and families to editorial images.   

  • Standardization can relieve administrative burden, if we can get there

    Tags: administrative burden, standardization, health care reform

    The amount of time and money physicians and their staffs spend on the administrative tasks of medicine is astounding. A recent perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine quantifies it this way: “The average physician spends 43 minutes a day interacting with health plans about payment, dealing with formularies, and obtaining authorizations for procedures,” and physician practices hire coding and billing staff “who spend their days translating clinical records into billing forms and submitting and monitoring reimbursements.”

    That translates to an annual cost of $361 billion spent on health care administration, and half of these expenditures are unnecessary.

    The authors argue that standardization is key to reducing administrative costs, and much of this can be achieved through health information technology and electronic health records. Though they say the only entity with the “clout” to push through standards in medical transactions is the federal government, measures in the Affordable Care Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)—like instituting regulations on payers and providing incentives to physicians and facilities—may start us on the right path when previous efforts have failed.

  • Travis County's Proposition 1

    Tags: vote, proposition, medical education, election, medical school

    The recent chatter of new medical schools in Austin and South Texas is back in the news, as Proposition 1 is on this year’s ballot in Travis County. If approved, the proposition would increase property taxes in order to fund healthcare services that will later be provided by a new medical school in Austin. Both schools will be a part of the University of Texas system.

    As university systems expand and new medical schools open up, we must ask what they intend to do about the lack of primary care physicians not only in the state, but all across the country. Programs are being put into place to encourage students to pursue primary care, but are not widespread among schools.

    AAFP Executive Vice President, Dr. Douglas Henley, M.D., addressed the shortage when speaking to the AAFP Congress of Delegates in Philadelphia last week. Henley describes a new type of medical education – “one which is more clinically oriented; one where all students are first educated and trained as ‘comprehensivists’ before seeking specialty training as residents; and one where students are taught to be leaders of efficient teams of health care professionals focused on delivering patient centered care to meet the triple aim of better care, better health, and lower cost.”