By Kate McCann
From the first day of 2009, TAFP has worked diligently to promote family medicine. Beginning in January, advocacy and communications staff hit the ground running for the legislative session, education kicked off a year of high-quality CME programs, and membership sought new partnerships and resources to serve you better. Read on for a synopsis of the year’s work.
TAFP’s Legislative Affairs division passed the first half of the year advocating the issues important to family physicians during the 81st Legislative Session. In the months leading up to the session, TAFP and its partners in the Primary Care Coalition published a report titled “The Primary Solution: Mending Texas’ Fractured Health Care System,” which issued a bipartisan call to improve Texas’ health care delivery system, strengthen the future primary care physician workforce, and provide all Texans with a medical home where they can receive comprehensive and affordable preventative care. TAFP saw immediate positive response to the report as it was used by legislators and their staffs to craft legislation addressing our top priorities.
During the session, TAFP members worked diligently to keep the momentum going, testifying before House and Senate committees, contacting their representatives, and serving as Physicians of the Day in the Capitol Health Clinic. By the time sine die rolled around, the Academy had accomplished many legislative feats, with two in particular standing out for their magnitude.
House Bill 2154 by Rep. Al Edwards and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, creates the updated Texas Physician Education Loan Repayment Program, which officials hope will bring 225 physicians per year to medically underserved areas around the state. The program will pay up to $160,000 to physicians who practice for four years in primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas, many of which are located in rural communities as well as urban centers.
The instant verification of benefits bill, H.B. 1342 by Rep. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, and Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington, requires health plans to provide information to physicians at the point of care about what services are covered, the amount of the patient’s co-pay and deductible, and what the patient’s out-of-pocket costs will be for services provided.
Throughout the session and after, the TAFP Political Action Committee and our physician leadership base voiced family medicine’s interests. TAFPPAC grew to 72 monthly donors in 2009, gathering important funds to prepare for the battles-to-come in the 2010 primary and general elections, and the 82nd Legislative Session in 2011.
Through news content published in Texas Family Physician, on www.tafp.org, in QuickInfo, and in Capitol Update and its video counterpart, Capitol Report, TAFP Communications worked to support our legislative advocacy efforts and inform the membership of the Academy’s activities.
Quarterly magazine TEXAS FAMILY PHYSICIAN allowed the Academy to explore relevant issues facing family medicine. The last year of issues featured cover stories on the advanced concept of the medical home, instant verification of benefits for physicians, federal stimulus dollars available to support health information technology, and a Q&A with new AAFP President-elect Roland Goertz, M.D. Other magazine content delved into news on state and federal legislative and regulatory topics affecting the practice of family medicine, news about what TAFP is doing on behalf of the family physicians of Texas, member news about notable accomplishments and activities of our members, service articles providing practice management tips, human interest stories about Texas family doctors, and opinion pieces from our officers and members.
Apart from features and news published in TEXAS FAMILY PHYSICIAN, the Academy maintained a comprehensive news package covering the happenings of the 81st Texas Legislature. These included 15 editions of in-depth coverage in Capitol Update; four episodes of video news webcast Capitol Report; successful public relations efforts to broadcast TAFP’s message in major newspaper articles, op-eds, guest editorials, letters to the editor and more; plus TV and radio news coverage.
TAFP continues to upgrade its website, www.tafp.org, to host member resources and practice tools relevant to family physicians’ practices. QuickInfo, TAFP’s e-newsletter, acted as a springboard to publicize these virtual tools and the latest news.
Outside of the TAFP website, Academy staff launched www.MedicalHomeForAll.com, a multimedia website containing hours of video in support of the medical home concept. The site is divided into four parts: What is a Medical Home?, the Patients’ View, Employers Support the Medical Home, and the Medical Home in Practice. Each section features a main narrated video defining and showing examples of the medical home, satellite videos of interviews with prominent leaders in the medical home effort, news about pilot projects and physician strides in transforming their practices, and resources for anyone wishing to know more about the medical home.
TAFP Communications has many more exciting projects in the works, all part of our effort to continually expand the Web and media presence for family medicine.
TAFP presented four annual symposia in 2009, reaching almost 1,000 family physicians and other health professionals. These included the Doctors in Motion in Crested Butte, Colo., the C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session in Austin, TAFP’s 60th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly in Arlington, and Primary Care Summit in Houston. Symposia attendees had the opportunity to earn more than 83 CME credits at these conferences, including 58 Evidence-based CME credits. The Education Department coordinated diverse CME programs at the symposia, exploring topics in obesity management, the medical home, vaccines, legislative issues, and the latest in diabetes screening and management. Overall, attendees ranked the education at symposia an average of 4.54 on a five-point scale.
In addition, TAFP offered two Self-Assessment Module Group Study Workshops this year to help ABFM diplomates meet certification and recertification requirements. The SAM workshops on Maternity Care and Pain Management were held during Annual Session and Primary Care Summit. Also during Annual Session, the National Procedures Institute presented a hands-on workshop on Stress ECG Testing. TAFP’s PrimeCME delivered 22 educational events to over 500 attendees around the state, including seven Saturday morning four-hour programs.
In June, NPI moved from its headquarters from Midland, Mich., to TAFP’s building in Austin. NPI, a joint investment by AAFP, TAFP, and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, provides members valuable practice enhancement techniques while also providing the Academy non-dues revenue. In 2009, NPI delivered 94 procedural workshops to more than 1,150 medical professionals around the country, including a series of courses in Dallas in October. For the past 20 years, NPI has helped more than 45,000 primary care physicians provide quality, cost-effective patient care while broadening the range of services they offer and enhancing their practice revenue. View the 2010 event schedule and register for upcoming CME conferences—including a stop in San Antonio—on the NPI website, www.NPInstitute.com.
Members and Leaders
TAFP’s new officers were inducted at this year’s Annual Session. The inductees were: President Kaparaboyna Ashok Kumar, M.D., F.R.C.S.; President-elect Melissa Gerdes, M.D.; Vice President Troy Fiesinger, M.D.; Treasurer I. L. Balkcom, IV, M.D.; and Parliamentarian Clare Hawkins, M.D.
Also during the Annual Session Business and Awards Lunch, the Academy recognized some of its revered members. Larry Karrh, M.D., of San Antonio received the Family Physician of the Year Award; Glen Johnson, M.D., of Houston was recognized as the 2009 Physician Emeritus; Douglas Curran, M.D., of Athens received the Presidential Award of Merit; Linda Siy, M.D., of Fort Worth received the TAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year Award; Tamra Deuser, M.D., of Flower Mound won the Public Health Award; Gary Mennie, M.D., of Port Arthur was awarded the TAFPPAC Award; Shobha Rao, M.D., of Dallas was awarded the Exemplary Teaching Award; State Reps. Garnet Coleman and Warren Chisum received the Patient Advocacy Award; and Rep. José Menéndez received a new award, the Innovation in Health Care Policy Award.
Texas was well represented at AAFP’s 2009 conferences. During AAFP’s 2009 Scientific Assembly in Boston, Mass., Goertz was elected AAFP president-elect, and Leah Raye Mabry, M.D., of San Antonio was elected to a second term as speaker of the AAFP Congress of Delegates. Representing Texas during the Congress were Delegates Lloyd Van Winkle, M.D., of Castroville, and Justin Bartos, M.D., of North Richland Hills, and Alternate Delegates Siy and Erica Swegler, M.D., of Keller.
As of December 2009, membership in TAFP had increased to 6,099 total members. TAFP student and resident enrollment rose to 1,492. At TAFP’s 20th Annual Student and Resident Conference in March, TAFP leaders spoke on the business of medicine. The conference included the fifth TAFP Residency and Procedures Fair with residency programs demonstrating various procedures to students such as suturing, joint injections, ultrasounds, colposcopy, and others.
Building on the outstanding set of member services the Academy currently provides through partnerships with TAFP’s practice management consultant Bradley Reiner and vaccine purchasing program Atlantic Health Partners, TAFP has teamed up with RemitDATA to improve members’ practice efficiency and revenue. RemitDATA, a pioneer in Web-based reimbursement and productivity tools, will conduct a pilot project to improve practice revenue and cash-flow by providing family physicians an easy-to-use, online practice management tool to aggregate their reimbursement data and provide real-time payer benchmarking to help them identify inefficiencies in their billing process that may be costing the practice lost revenue. TAFP continually provides updated Web resources for family physicians, this year launching sections to address H1N1 flu, pertussis, and the medical home. For more information on accessing any of these member resources, go to www.tafp.org/practice-resources.
The TAFP Foundation could not function without the generosity of its members. The Foundation currently has 64 monthly donors whose contributions go toward research, scholarships, and travel funding for medical students and residents.
This year, the TAFP Foundation Scholarship Program awarded its 100th medical student scholarship and celebrated its 15th anniversary. In honor of our scholarship awardees and namesakes, the TAFP Foundation launched the virtual Wall of Honor. The online tribute showcases photos and descriptions of the TAFP leaders for whom the scholarships were named, as well as photos and updates from the scholarship recipients. It is a nod to the previous Wall of Honor, a multi-panel bulletin board display of namesake photos displayed at past Annual Sessions.
In addition to member contributions, the TAFP Foundation silent auction, held during Annual Session in Arlington, raised more than $3,000. Items for auction included tickets to a University of Texas Longhorn football game; San Antonio Spurs basketball tickets; getaways in Dallas, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla.; a one-of-a-kind TAFP football; and a movie-night package.
Through the Foundation’s annual charity project, Physicians with Heart, TAFP members donated more than $700 to the Bob Mann Clinic in Arlington, which provides health care at no cost to low-income residents of Arlington, the Tarrant County portion of Grand Prairie, and surrounding communities of Kennedale, Mansfield, Pantego, and Dalworthington Gardens.
Finally, the Foundation officially launched the new Family Medicine Research Endowment Program during Annual Session. The new program pools contributions into a large research fund that allows the research committee to award larger and more meaningful grants. Whether donors create a research fund in their name or honor a colleague, the funds will collectively support the research efforts of the Foundation. Each fund honoree will be identified as a Family Medicine Research Champion at four different levels on the website and in TAFP’s magazine.
Read more about the Research Endowment Program, view the Wall of Honor, and find more Foundation news on the redesigned Foundation website, www.tafp.org/foundation.
Back at the Office
TAFP welcomed new staff member Julie Woods in 2009. Julie splits her time between TAFP and the National Procedures Institute as an education coordinator. “Joining the team at TAFP has been great,” she says. “I feel like I have been welcomed with open arms and I am in awe about the excitement and complexity of the projects that TAFP undertakes.”
As the Academy continues to grow, we are grateful for all of our hardworking staff members. We look forward to a prosperous 2010 when we will continue to serve the needs of Texas family physicians.