• 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.

  • As kids head back to school, it’s time to immunize

    Tags: kadir, immunization, vaccination, vaccine, school

    By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
    Brushy Creek Family Physicians

    As summer vacation draws to an end, lunches, school buses, and homework will soon replace swimsuits, road trips, and television. For those family physicians who see pediatric patients, sports physicals and well child checks are aplenty. It is our responsibility to remind our patients and their parents of the importance of routine immunizations. As we all know, prevention of disease is essential for both patient health and control of medical costs.

    The national vaccine immunization program is one of the most successful examples of effective preventive care in the U.S. Want some powerful examples? How about the marked decrease in cases of invasive haemophilus influenzae type b infection since the introduction of HIB conjugate vaccines in December 1987? The number of cases in children younger than five years of age declined by more than 99 percent by 2000. Here’s another: In 1979, the global eradication of smallpox was announced, one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, made possible by the advent of the smallpox vaccine.

  • What is a good doctor?

    Tags: fiesinger, president's letter, family physician, quality

    By Troy Fiesinger, M.D.
    TAFP President, 2012-2013

    Although I missed the blockbuster 2011 Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, I recently read the book by Michael Lewis. Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, a promising high school prospect out of California, was drafted by the New York Mets the same year as Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra. Despite looking like a top prospect to the scouts, Beane’s major league career ended early while Strawberry and Dykstra won the 1986 World Series with the Mets. As the general manager of the Athletics, Beane struggled to define more accurately what makes a baseball player good. This got me thinking: How do I know I’m a good doctor?

    I can point to the diplomas on my wall and tell you I went to good schools, but the U.S. News and World Report rankings are little more than opinion surveys with minimal hard data to back up their lists. I can show you a copy of my Texas medical license, but that just means I haven’t broken any laws nor received any complaints to the Texas Medical Board. You could look at my American Board of Family Medicine diploma, know that I have passed a national exam and do annual online education modules, and consequently assume I know something. You do not know, however, if I am better than the doctors across the street.

  • Legislature restores women’s preventive care funding

    Tags: realini, legislature, texas women's healthcare coalition, women's health, department of state health services

    By Janet Realini, M.D., M.P.H.
    Chair, Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition

    In a bipartisan effort, the 83rd Texas Legislature increased funding for preventive care for low-income women, making an important first step toward restored access for over 140,000 low-income women. Senate Bill 1, now signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, invests in family planning in three key funding streams.

    • It adds $32.1 million in state funding to the Department of State Health Services Family Planning Program, replacing federal dollars awarded to the private Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas network through Title X;
    • It adds $100 million for a DSHS Primary Health Care Expansion for women’s health care, 60 percent of which will provide contraceptive care; and
    • It adds $71.3 million in state funding to maintain the Texas Women’s Health Program, which lost its federal funding due to the “Affiliate Ban Rule” that excluded Planned Parenthood from the program.

  • TAFP Update

    Tags: foundation, tafp foundation, mccarthy, family medicine, legislature, curran, foxhall, klawitter, annual session

    By Kathy McCarthy, TAFP COO

    Looking back at the past few years, TAFP has much to be proud of. Family medicine had a successful legislative session this year – increases in graduate medical education funding, restoration of the loan repayment program, and passage of legislation that will reduce hassle by standardizing prior authorization forms. Some other areas to highlight include the tremendous leadership we have at TAFP and the ways that branches out. The election of Dr. Lloyd Van Winkle to the AAFP Board last year makes sure that the voice of the small practice physician is heard at the national level. There are currently three TAFP members serving on the TMA Board of Trustees – Dr. Art Klawitter, Dr. Lewis Foxhall, and Dr. Doug Curran. It’s so important to have those family docs at the table sharing their concerns and perspectives within the house of medicine.

    TAFP’s membership is strong and continues to grow. At a time when membership organizations are struggling to retain members, TAFP has seen almost 6.5 percent growth in active membership in the last five years.