As I said in a recent Editor’s Page, we really do live by the motto on the cover when we plan an issue of Family Practice Management: “Tools for Today’s Family Physician.” An article may be something you read and think about, but a tool is something you adopt and use. Many of the tools we provide in FPM are intangible; they are ideas or tips that unlock new possibilities or give you new ways of making your practice work. A few of the tools are designed to help you make the best possible use of FPM itself. (Consider the Speedbar summaries and “Key Points” boxes that appear in most articles, for instance.)
But the tools for which FPM is probably best known are the ones you may be tempted to tear out or photocopy: quick references, flow sheets, progress note forms, coding aids, self-tests, patient handouts and the like. We’re proud enough of these tools that we’ve devised an icon to call attention to them on the table of contents and in the articles where they appear. Starting with this issue, where you see the “ FPM tool inside” wrench, you’ll know there’s something you might find particularly useful.
This issue, for instance, contains three labeled tools:
A modified Put Prevention Into Practice flow sheet that has proved successful in increasing the delivery of preventive care interventions in at least one setting – and, available online, a full set of such flow sheets for male and female patients of all ages (see page 51).
The Family Practice Management Practice Self-Test (see page 41). A brand new tool created specifically for FPM readers, the self-test offers you a chance to get a new perspective on your own practice, to see its strengths and weaknesses more clearly and to identify directions to go in making improvements.
A time-management self-assessment chart that can help you deal with the fact that there are only so many hours in a week (see page 66).
Additions to the online FPM Toolbox
As you may already know, the Family Practice Management Web site (www.aafp.org/fpm) already carries a list of links to FPM tools available online. This “FPM Toolbox” appears on the left-hand side of the home page. Starting with the online version of this issue, I’m happy to say, the list of tools has tripled. We have added links to a wide variety of tools published in FPM mostly before the beginning of calendar 2000. To give you an idea of the range of added links, here are a few examples:
Nursing flow sheets designed to encourage proper documentation – and billing – of level-I visits for such services as depo-progesterone injections.
A sample “formulary cheat sheet”–a pocket reference to help you keep track of which drugs are on which of the formularies you deal with.
A spreadsheet for tracking allowable charges by payer – and for analyzing the value of your various managed care contracts.
A sample sexual harassment policy.
We will, of course, continue to add to this online toolbox over the coming months, both by adding tools published before FPM started posting its full text online in April 1997 and by developing and adding new tools in future issues. While it’s the rare physician who would find every one of the tools useful, I suspect that the physician who won’t find at least one extremely useful resource in our toolbox is equally rare.
Finally, I need to mention one more new set of FPM tools: the talent, skill and creativity of Christine Schneider, our new art director. You may already have noticed that this issue looks different – better! – in various ways, some subtle and some not so subtle.
And you will continue to see more changes over the next few issues. They’re changes we’re excited about, and I think you’ll find that the new look they give FPM will be both pleasing to the eye and useful in helping you get the most out of the journal. Keep watching. You’ll like what you see.