AAFP Launches Online Quality Improvement Program
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has launched the Measuring, Evaluating, and Translating Research Into Care (METRIC) quality improvement program. The new online program provides continuing medical education that gives physicians credit for improving the processes they use to care for patients, and it is designed to fulfill the American Board of Family Medicine’s (ABFM) new requirement for part IV (performance in practice) of maintenance of certification for family physicians. AAFP members and nonmembers may use the METRIC program to help fulfill this requirement. The program promotes evidence-based practice and strengthening of clinical information systems. It consists of a series of quality improvement modules that primarily focus on single disease conditions. The first module, “Diabetes: Improving Patient Care,” is available online. Each module includes an assessment survey, initial and follow-up chart audits, a feedback report, an action plan, and a final report. A second module on coronary artery disease will be available in July 2005. Modules are $25 for AAFP members and $50 for nonmembers. For more information, go to https://www.aafp.org/metric.xml.
NIH Issues New Guidelines for Managing Asthma During Pregnancy
The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued new guidelines for the treatment of pregnant women with asthma. The report reflects new medications and updates treatment recommendations based on a systematic review of data on the safety of these medications. The guidelines emphasize that controlling asthma during pregnancy is important for the health and well-being of the mother and development of the fetus. The report highlights the need for patients with persistent asthma to: have their symptoms checked at least once a month, identify and limit exposure to asthma triggers, have any conditions (e.g., sinusitis) that exacerbate asthma symptoms treated, and adjust medications as needed. The full report, “Managing Asthma During Pregnancy: Recommendations for Pharmacologic Treatment—Update 2004,” is available online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/lung/asthma/astpreg.htm.
ABFM Extends Deadline for 2004 Self-Assessment Module
The ABFM has extended the deadline for completing the required 2004 self-assessment module for the maintenance of certification program for family physicians to April 15, 2005. The extension will be offered only once. To take advantage of the extension, call the ABFM help desk at 877-223-7437 or e-mail email@example.com. Diplomates required to fulfill the self-assessment requirement for 2005 have until December 31, 2005, to complete it. More information is available online at http://www.abfp.org.
CMS Provides Web Site Describing Initial Preventive Physical Examination
Family physicians can receive reimbursement for initial preventive physical examinations provided to Medicare beneficiaries whose Part B coverage took effect on or after January 1, 2005. Each examination includes a medical history; review of functional ability; physical examination; screenings for diabetes, hearing, vision, cholesterol, and hypertension; and an electrocardiograph test. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare also will pay separately for medically necessary evaluation and management services, screening, and other preventive care at the same visit as the physical. The physical must be provided to new beneficiaries within six months of the date they become eligible for Medicare. The background information, coding procedures, and description of the services included in the examination are available online at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medlearn/matters/mmarticles/2005/MM3638.pdf.
HHS Releases New Edition of Dietary Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005,” which promotes healthy habits and reducing the risk of chronic disease through nutrition and physical activity. The new guidelines place more emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. Serving sizes are now given in cup or ounce sizes, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products and protein sources (i.e., lean meats, fish, vegetable protein) are encouraged. The report offers action steps for: achieving goals in weight control, gaining stronger muscles and bones, and balancing nutritional intake for persons two years and older. Other topics covered in the guidelines include alcoholic beverages, adequate nutrients within caloric needs, and food safety. A revised food guide pyramid will be released in the spring of 2005. To highlight the key points, a consumer-oriented brochure accompanies the guidelines. The guidelines and brochure are available online at http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.
AAFP Foundation Fund for Tsunami Relief Approaches $70,000
In early January, AAFP President Mary Frank, M.D., of Mill Valley, Calif., requested donations to projects bringing aid to areas of South Asia devastated by the earthquake and tsunami waves. She advised sending contributions to the AAFP Foundation International Fund, Heart to Heart International, and the American Red Cross. To date, more than $47,500 has been donated. The AAFP Foundation Board of Trustees added another $20,000. The foundation is giving the donations directly to the International Medical Corps, a global humanitarian nonprofit organization that works with family physicians and other volunteers. The corps is dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training, and relief and development programs. More information is available online at https://www.aafp.org/x31162.xml and http://www.imcworldwide.org/index.shtml.
AAFP-Sponsored Program Receives More Than $30 Million in Grants
The Grant Generating Project Fellowship sponsors grantsmanship training for family medicine faculty using funded grants obtained by its alumni. Since 1996, the project fellows have received $30,346,383 for various research and training projects. The fellowship offers a yearlong program providing advanced training to family medicine faculty in universities and teaching hospitals through a combination of workshops, individualized critiques, and mentoring. The fellows also participate in national and international family medicine and research conferences. In addition to the AAFP, sponsors include the North American Primary Care Research Group, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. More information about the project is available online at http://www.fcm.missouri.edu/research-ggp.htm.