When Kelly McDonald, M.D, of College Station, Texas, entered Expo Hall at the AAFP's 2017 Family Medicine Experience (FMX), she intended to stay an hour or so. But the atmosphere was so enticing and the exhibitors so engaging that she overstayed her self-imposed timeline.
Family physician Kelly McDonald, M.D., accompanied by her husband, Scott Sill, spends some time getting answers about e-consults from a telemedicine expert at the Office of the Future Exhibit. McDonald gave the exhibit a thumbs up, saying she appreciated having all the information she needed in one spot.
AAFP News first spotted McDonald at the Office of the Future exhibit(www.cipci.org), chatting with a telemedicine expert in the pavilion's new Knowledge Bar.
"I'm interested in e-consults," said McDonald, a solo family physician practicing in a satellite primary care clinic in Brenham, Texas, midway between Austin and Houston.
In addition to caring for patients in the town of 15,000, McDonald oversees two additional clinics located in what she described as "tiny towns of about 5,000 with even fewer resources than I have."
All three clinics are a part of CHI St. Joseph Health, a large Texas health system.
"When I have questions about medication management for a patient, there is no venue without referring patients out," to subspecialists, said McDonald. It's not unusual for patients to wait four months for urology consults, and even when they're able to snag a slot and wait that long, they sometimes drive for an hour or longer just to ask one question.
"I'm here looking for rural health care solutions," said McDonald.
The 2017 exhibit was making a repeat appearance after its popular debut at the 2016 FMX.
The 2017 Office of the Future exhibit takes up a good chunk of Expo Hall in San Antonio's Henry B. González Convention Center, sporting multiple learning stations for physicians to visit.
This year's venue sported new features, but the overall aim remained unchanged: Give primary care physicians like McDonald a glimpse into their future practicing in a modernized office space and with an advanced health care delivery system that works better for physicians and patients.
The exhibit, a joint project of the AAFP and the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation(www.cipci.org), includes a bevy of experts, partners and supporting partners.
Mat Kendall, EVP of provider networks and co-founder of Aledade, a company engaged as one of those experts, stood ready to assist family physicians at a kiosk that invited visitors to "Ask About Practice Transformation."
"Physicians are curious and traffic has been impressive; we were swamped when the doors opened yesterday," he told AAFP News. "We're answering lots of questions."
The top question physicians ask is how to pay for what they see in the exhibit.
Kendall said physicians tell him they want to stay independent, and they want to understand how innovation can support them in that desire.
Physicians also want to learn from other people and network with their peers. "They say, 'Hook me up with other people who can give me advice,'" said Kendall. The key is to help them make those connections.
"A lot of people are moving into the future without realizing it. They're thinking about population health and already doing things to participate in the new model; they're working with a team, focusing on quality and using the huddle to ensure patients get what they need," said Kendall.
"When they connect all these things they realize they're in a very good place."
Kendall said the exhibit was popular because it offered everything in one spot.
Visitors told him, "I have this, but not that. I can add another piece of the puzzle to my practice."
Related AAFP News Coverage
2017 Family Medicine Experience
Keynote Covers Top Updates in Evidence-based Medicine
2017 AAFP FMX: Day Four(storify.com)