By Jonathan Nelson
TAFP’s new strategic plan focuses on helping members care for patients
Last fall, the TAFP Board of Directors approved a new strategic plan for the Academy designed to strengthen the organization and ensure it works to help members do what they do best: take care of their patients and their communities. The plan is the culmination of a yearlong process led by TAFP’s elected leaders and a select group of other leaders. It will help guide Academy actions and endeavors for the next three to five years.
The first order of business for the strategic planning committee was to refine TAFP’s mission and vision statements. The new proposed statements are as follows.
Mission Statement: The mission of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians is to promote the health of all Texans by serving the needs of members and advancing the specialty of family medicine.
Vision Statement: TAFP empowers family physicians to play a robust role in health care for their patients and their communities.
These proposed statements have been approved by the board of directors and will be included as proposed amendments to the TAFP Bylaws, which will be voted on during the Member Assembly at this year’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit in November.
In pursuit of this mission, the committee decided to organize the Academy’s endeavors around a set of structural concepts: the health of the physician and the practice, the health of the patient and the population, and the health of the organization and the specialty. Virtually everything TAFP’s leadership, committees, and staff do can be categorized in one or more of these areas of focus.
These three concepts can be expressed as strategic objectives. TAFP’s strategic objectives for 2019 and beyond are:
To support the family physicians of Texas and their practices;
To improve the health of Texans and their communities; and
To advance the specialty of family medicine and strengthen our organization.
Under each strategic objective, the committee listed a set of goals determined through a rigorous examination of member survey data and debate. Then the group identified three strategic initiatives for each.
TAFP Board Chair Janet Hurley, MD, presented the new strategic plan at the 2018 Member Assembly last November, telling the audience the Academy’s emphasis can be summed up in the unofficial slogan adopted by the strategic planning committee: Strong family physicians, strong medicine, strong patients.
“When we think about the health of the physician and the practice, we really want to help empower you where you are,” she said.
In TAFP’s 2018 member survey, administrative burdens were by far the No. 1 concern of members, with 85.8 percent of respondents saying TAFP should focus “a lot” or “as much as possible” on reducing administrative burdens. Almost 60 percent of respondents listed “administrative burden caused by payers” as one of their top three frustrations. Hence finding ways to reduce those burdens took up much of the committee’s focus when considering the health of the physician and the practice.
“We want to continue to work to identify and remove unnecessary administrative burdens throughout the documentation, compliance, claims and billing processes,” Hurley said. “And we recognize our national Academy is working ardently on this as well. Our challenge is to begin to think what are the unique things that our Texas physicians are struggling with. What are some ways we can caucus with our payers to try to reduce administrative burdens for you.”
When considering the health of the patient and the population, the committee identified behavioral health as the key problem to address. “I know in the area where I practice, we just simply cannot get people into psychiatry,” Hurley said. I hear some of you have perhaps some better success with that than I do, but it is a definite need and a real frustration for our members. … A lot of times these patients have a lot of unique social needs. We need to begin figuring our how we are going to empower you locally to make a difference with that.”
The committee called for the Academy to convene a behavioral health task force comprised of experts across a range of disciplines to identify resources and best practices for integrating behavioral health into family medicine. That task force has already begun its work, so you can expect to hear from them later this year.
Finally, the committee recommended a number of initiatives to strengthen TAFP and to support the specialty of family medicine. The Academy will develop a multimedia toolkit members can use to persuade employers, insurers, academic deans, and medical students of the value of family medicine. The Academy will also continue to invest in leadership development for family physicians so members can advance their message across various spheres of influence.
So with a new strategic plan in place, the Academy has its focus and its charge for 2019 and beyond. The main theme as Dr. Hurley described it is to help empower our members to succeed.
“It became very apparent to us as we continue to push legislation through Austin and as our national Academy pushes legislation through Washington, that we have a very divisive political system,” she said. That divisiveness makes legislative advocacy more difficult and sometimes less effective. “Of course we will continue to stay active in Austin and in Washington, D.C., but we really want to begin empowering you to work locally for the improvement of your patients and your communities.”