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Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(4):601-603

AAFP and ABFP Collaborate to Ease Transition to New Certification System

Responding to criticism about health care quality in the United States, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) developed a program that centers on maintenance of certification to boost confidence in the quality of physicians. Maintenance of certification, which is required of all board-certified physicians in the United States, is intended to continuously measure the competencies of practicing physicians in every specialty. Each ABMS member board will administer a maintenance of certification system tailored to its diplomates. The American Board of Family Practice (ABFP) will use a four-part framework to measure physician competencies over the seven-year certification period. The four components are professionalism, self-assessment, cognitive expertise, and practice performance. Physicians who certify or re-certify in 2003 will be the first to enter the maintenance of certification program. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the ABFP are collaborating on various elements of maintenance of certification to ease transition to the new system and to maximize the opportunities it presents for improving patient care.

Project to Study Implementation of An Electronic Health Records System

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the AAFP will conduct a six-month demonstration project to study the implementation of electronic health records in family practice settings. The project, expected to begin no later than Nov. 1, will test an open-source electronic health record product and an application service provider model in six to 10 small family physician practices across the United States. The aim of the project is to discover and eliminate potential obstacles to implementing electronic health records and to clarify the direct and indirect costs of such a transition in a medical practice setting. In its affiliation with the AAFP, HIMSS will serve as electronic health records content experts and as a liaison with the corporate community for AAFP members. To read the joint press release on this collaboration, go online

HHS Releases Fact Sheet on Patient Safety Task Force

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a fact sheet on the Patient Safety Task Force that was established to coordinate the integration of data collection on medical errors and adverse events, to coordinate research and analysis efforts, and to improve the quality of health care by preventing complications and reducing the occurrence of injuries resulting from medical errors. The task force also will reduce the duplication of effort by coordinating the data collection of federal agencies, states, accrediting bodies, and other organizations; provide the results of its analyses to the health care community; conduct research, demonstration projects, and quality improvement programs to promote patient safety; and promote effective patient safety programs. The Patient Safety Task Force will serve as a special task force under the HHS Secretary's Quality Improvement Initiative and will consist of representatives from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The fact sheet is available online

AHRQ Releases Women's Health Brochure for Screening Tests and Staying Healthy

The AHRQ recently released a new pocket-size brochure designed for women to take with them on visits to their health care professionals to track their medical screening tests. The health tool, “Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age—Checklist for Your Next Checkup,” includes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for medical screening tests such as mammograms, Pap smears, cholesterol checks, diabetes tests, depression, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sexually transmitted diseases. The brochure also discusses preventive medicine, such as hormone replacement therapy, breast cancer medications, aspirin, and immunizations, and provides tips about ways to stay healthy, such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising. The brochure is available on the AHRQ Web site in English and in Spanish The English and Spanish versions of the men's checklists, which were previously released, are available

HHS to Strengthen Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

HHS Sec. Tommy G. Thompson recently announced new transformations to the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps designed to create a more effective, flexible, and deployable force that is ready to respond to public health and emergency needs across the country and around the world. The plan includes creating scholarships to recruit as many as 1,000 nurses and 100 doctors per year to work in medically underserved areas; create additional short-term duty missions and “rolling deployments” to address Presidential and Secretarial initiatives; provide a modernized reserve component system; and establish a ready reserve corps that will supplement the efforts of the Commissioned Corps. These transformations will occur during the next several months and under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Tar Wars Program Selects Winners of National Poster Contest

Fifth-grader Francesca Pengidore, Beaver, Pa., was recently awarded first place in the 2003 Tar Wars national poster contest and received a family trip to Disney World. Runners-up included Widya Adidharma, Laramie, Wyo., Hannah Smith, Rome, Ga., and James Wetzel, Ozark, Ala. There were also six honorable mentions. The winning posters can be viewed on the Tar Wars Web site The Tar Wars program, which was established in 1988 and is supported by the AAFP, is a tobacco-free education program that discourages tobacco use among youth.

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