2014: Year in Review

Health is Primary Launch Heralds New Era for Family Medicine

January 07, 2015 08:21 pm News Staff

In what was arguably one of the most significant developments of 2014, exactly one decade after essentially re-inventing itself through the Future of Family Medicine project, family medicine once again stepped up with a plan to transform not only itself, but the American health care system, as well.

AAFP President Robert Wergin, M.D., of Milford, Neb., gives attendees at the 2014 AAFP Assembly a heads-up about the launch of Health Is Primary, a national media campaign that will, among other goals, encourage patients to become more engaged in their own health care.

In his inaugural address as the Academy's new leader on Oct. 22 during the AAFP Assembly in Washington, AAFP President Robert Wergin, M.D., of Milford, Neb., gave Assembly-goers their first glimpse of a three-year communications campaign being launched by the AAFP and its seven family medicine sister organizations.

Dubbed Health is Primary(healthisprimary.org), the campaign will use advertising, news media outreach, online communications, partnerships and other outreach efforts to rally patients, employers, policymakers and other local stakeholders nationwide to recognize and support the value of family medicine and primary care.

In conjunction with the communications campaign, the eight groups -- which together have formed a new organization known as Family Medicine for America's Health -- also will execute a five-year strategic implementation plan that seeks to do no less than transform the U.S. health care system -- a goal that will require family physicians to work alongside a diverse range of key players in the health care arena that includes patients, other primary care colleagues, ploicymakers and others.

Former AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., is board chair of Family Medicine for America's Health. During an Oct. 23 press event that marked the official kickoff of the organization's multiyear venture, he cited a convergence of factors as a strong indicator that now is the time to move forward.

"Our country is at a tipping point," says Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., chair of Family Medicine for America's Health, during the 2014 AAFP Assembly. The new coalition is launching a comprehensive venture to transform not only the specialty, but the entire U.S. health care system along with it.

"We believe our country is at a tipping point, with a number of major shifts -- including the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act, the establishment of the patient-centered medical home, and improvements in technology -- that have changed the landscape," said Stream. "We believe these represent an opportunity to truly transform and improve our nation's health."

According to Stream, Health is Primary is scheduled to begin traveling to cities around the country starting early in 2015 to highlight community-level interventions that are improving health while enhancing and expanding primary care. The campaign also will work with employers, health advocates and others to activate patients to take charge of health issues such as chronic disease management and smoking cessation.

At the same time, Family Medicine for America's Health will further the evolution of family medicine and propel system-wide change by focusing on the following areas:

  • transforming physician practices to enable them to adapt and excel in today's changing health care environment,
  • achieving payment reform that facilitates and accelerates the shift away from volume-based care and toward value-based care,
  • pursuing workforce education and development goals that aim to inspire and engage students and sharpen their leadership skills,
  • building a strong research agenda that supports the future of family medicine in an evidence-based way, and
  • taking a leadership role in ensuring that new practice and consumer technologies are meaningful and serve patients' and practices' needs.

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2014: The Year in Review