At the time of the founding of the specialty of family medicine (1969), there was general belief among our founders that family medicine would be a vehicle for changing the way that American medicine was practiced and delivered. While many aspects of family medicine have become quite mainstream, it is apparent that our specialty is one of a handful that are in any position to fundamentally contribute to changing the US healthcare system paradigm. Around the world, healthcare systems that have invested in primary healthcare services and prevention have better patient outcomes and lower costs than systems that rely more heavily on a specialty-based system, and it seems clear that without this investment in the US we will not get a handle on health equity.
The Commonwealth Fund recently published 10 key recommendations:
1. Make care coordination a priority
2. Identify patients most in need of proactive, coordinated care
3. Train more primary care physicians and geriatricians
4. Facilitate communication between providers
5. Engage patients in decisions about their care
6. Design better support for caregivers
7. Redesign funding mechanisms to meet patient’s needs
8. Integrate health and social services, physical and mental health care
9. Engage clinicians in change and train and support physician leaders
10. Learn from experience and scale up successful projects
This list seems tailor-made as a guide for family doctors to take back the lead in improving our patient’s health, as well as our own wellness, and the sustainability of our healthcare systems. Here in Wisconsin, we need to ensure that family physicians are driving the bus. The WAFP is your representative and your voice and we need your participation and involvement in a variety of areas:
Please consider joining us in moving forward our state and national agenda to put family doctors back in the driver’s seat for healthcare system improvement and physician wellness.
On one final note, medical education just completed our own “March Madness”, also known also “The Match”. Ensuring that we have a pipeline of excellent students entering family medicine is a key mission for the Academy. This year a record 105 students matched to Wisconsin family medicine residencies. Your Academy participates significantly to medical education in the state through collaborative efforts with both medical schools and all FM residencies, sponsorship and funding for students to attend the annual National Conference for Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and the Wisconsin Passport program that helps students apply to Wisconsin FM residencies. Thanks for helping us continue to grow medical student and resident activity in the state of Wisconsin.
Lisa Dodson, MD