• Menacing melanoma

    Tags: kadir, cancer, melanoma, screening

    By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
    Private practice, Austin

    As our patients head to the beach for their final flirt with summer, let’s remind ourselves that melanoma is on the march. The incidence of melanoma of the skin, the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, is increasing faster than any other potentially preventable cancer in the United States.

    Remembering risk factors
    Major risk factors necessitate a full body skin exam and teaching of the thorough skin self exam by a family physician or dermatologist.

  • Things to know for Annual Session and Scientific Assembly

    Tags: annual session and scientific assembly, san antonio, cme, tafp foundation, self assessment module, mobile app, app

    On behalf of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians staff, thank you for registering for the 65th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly! We have an eventful conference planned for you and we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

    Please visit the TAFP registration desk to pick up your materials including your CME syllabus, registration packet, and official program, which includes schedules, maps, and other information about the conference.

    TAFP Mobile App
    Download TAFP’s new year-round app to use on your smart phone, tablet, or computer. Search TAFP in your app store or Play Store and install the app for free, or simply go to https://events.crowdcompass.com/tafp. The app has all schedules, faculty information, maps, CME handouts, and special events at the touch of a finger. Once inside the app, click the 65th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly logo to access materials for your time in San Antonio.

  • Slow medicine: Taking time to practice the art of family medicine

    Tags: hawkins, president's letter

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    Do you ever think that your day is going slowly? Do the mundane features of patient care make you feel slow? Or perhaps, by contrast, you feel it is going too fast, like that proverbial hamster on the treadmill.

    My treadmill involves dealing with difficult patients, paperwork requests, and the idiosyncrasies of the electronic health record. In spite of the speed, however, I don’t always feel efficient. Even when I feel I can complete a patient encounter quickly, this does not feel like a triumph. The speed comes at the expense of a lack of connection with the patient, or less fulfilment with medicine than I had expected.

  • Let’s be bold for family medicine

    Tags: hurley, perspective

    By Janet Hurley, M.D.

    It’s time for boldness in family medicine. As I turned to hug Jim Martin, M.D., at the last TAFP C. Frank Webber Lectureship, I was touched by his heartfelt concern. He and other dedicated leaders before me have endeavored to set the stage for family medicine to have its time in the spotlight. Yet many family physicians do not seem willing to demonstrate the leadership skills or “fire in the belly” during this pivotal time of health care change.

    In the past, family physicians were seen as feeder mechanisms for the procedural and hospital cash machine. We were disrespected in the academic centers and our value was minimized by payers and the Relative Value Scale Update Committee. Specialists desired our referrals for lucrative procedures that are reimbursed under an inflated fee-for-service price. The hospitals have been hiring family physicians to ensure referral sources to their admission beds, imaging centers, and operating rooms. But the day of reckoning is coming for that payment methodology.

  • Reminders for C. Frank Webber & Interim Session

    Tags: c. frank webber lectureship, conference, symposium, interim session, cme

    The 2014 C. Frank Webber Lectureship is upon us and we are looking forward to seeing you there! Below you will find important information to make sure everything during the event goes smoothly for you.

    Registration hours
    Thursday, Feb. 27 | 9:00 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Friday, Feb. 28 | 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Saturday, March 1 | 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    C. Frank Webber Lectureship registration on Thursday and Friday will be located on the main floor in the hotel lobby outside the Omni Ballroom. The CME breakfast lecture begins at 7 a.m. on Friday.

  • CVS kicks butts!

    Tags: kadir, tobacco, tar wars

    By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
    Private practice, Austin

    For a split second, I just couldn’t believe it when I heard it. CVS Caremark, one of the largest pharmacies in America, stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores. The move took effect October 2013.

    The first chain of national pharmacies to take tobacco products off the shelves, their bold public health decision has been touted by the AAFP, AMA, American Cancer Society, and even President Barack Obama.

  • Making the grade

    Tags: hawkins, president's letter, report, quality

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    As I reviewed my children’s report cards recently, I found myself proud of their achievements. I also began reflecting on whether these grades were an accurate reflection of their past performance or current abilities. I know they worked very hard and deserved credit, and that being graded was a great deal of stress for them. Ultimately I found myself being thankful that I was no longer in the educational system where I was frequently under pressure to perform and be graded by teachers and professors. Then I stopped myself and considered the last report I received from a health plan which outlined my performance as a doctor. Unfair! How do they know how good I am? They don’t really know how well I perform.

    Increasingly we physicians find that health plans, governments, or employers are evaluating the care that we provide. Do we know what they are measuring? Will it affect my payments? Will it affect my employment?

  • Banding together helps small practices achieve PCMH recognition

    Tags: van winkle, perspective, patient-centered medical home

    By Lloyd Van Winkle, M.D.

    When the topic of practice transformation comes up, one of the most frequent questions we hear is, “What about the little guy?” How are small practices expected to overcome the additional work and expense needed to achieve patient-centered medical home recognition?

    This is a valid question, but the answer might be simpler than you think. For my small practice, the solution was to find strength in numbers. And that didn’t require anything as complex as joining an accountable care organization or an independent practice association.

  • Let’s work together to keep our Academy and our specialty strong in a time of great change

    Tags: hawkins, president, president's letter, health care reform

    An excerpt from the 2013 incoming presidential address

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    Change is inevitable. We can change or die. As family physicians, we can lead the coming change in our health care delivery system.

    Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

  • A better way to value family physicians’ work

    Tags: young, perspective, coding, billing, value

    By Richard Young, M.D.

    Ms. M was a 68-year-old Hispanic female who had not seen Dr. Smith (not his real name) in nearly a year. She had run out of her diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol medications months before.

    Ms. M had other concerns in addition to these three chronic diseases and the practical difficulties she faced filling her prescriptions. She asked Dr. Smith to help her with her foot pain and knee pain. She was told by another doctor at an ER that she had visited for a non-urgent problem a few months prior that her blood potassium level was low. She expected Dr. Smith to address her heartburn, recent weight gain, bad teeth, and an additional but distinctly different abdominal pain. She wanted a test for her kidney function, for which Dr. Smith had to spend a couple of minutes trying to figure out why she was concerned about her kidneys in the first place and the results of blood tests at other facilities such as her recent ER visit. Dr. Smith also spent several minutes explaining the need and importance of osteoporosis screening, which she ultimately declined.