As 2020 comes to an end, we have some very important news to share for the coming year. The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is joining with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and five other organizations, representing more than 400,000 primary care physicians nationwide, to take a stand and advocate for major reform in primary care payment and regulation. Together, we are promoting this stance and its supporting evidence with the incoming administration and other policy makers, health care administrators, employers, payers and patients.

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is pleased to announce the election of Kameron Matthews, MD, JD, FAAFP to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Dr. Matthews currently serves as Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer at the Veterans Health Administration in Washington, DC and was previously selected as the NAM’s 2018–2020 Puffer/ABFM Fellow. The 90 new NAM members and 10 international members were named during its annual meeting October 19.

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has been awarded a 3-year cooperative agreement by the HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to measure the use and potential burdens experienced by office-based physicians. ABFM and the Center for Clinical Informatics and Improvement Research (CLIIR) at UCSF are partnering to provide ONC with national-level data on how office-based physicians use health IT, including key measures on interoperability and burden.

In an ongoing effort to improve value in certification activities, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is revising its Performance Improvement (PI) activities, as defined in its Strategic Plan 2019–2025.

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has selected Rita Hamad, MD, PhD as the 2020 James C. Puffer, MD/American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) Fellow. Dr. Hamad serves as associate professor and as Director of Social Policies for the Health Equity Research (SPHERE) program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is committed to a broad and sustained strategy to address the challenge of health equity. Pervasive health disparities in the U.S. and around the world have been amplified by the COVID pandemic and following the murder of George Floyd, underscoring a legacy of racial injustice. The ABFM’s mission and vision include a goal of “Optimal health and health care for all people and all communities that family physicians serve,” as outlined in its 2019 Strategic Plan.

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), founded in 1969, commemorated its 50th anniversary in 2019 by hosting a celebration and symposium in Lexington, Kentucky. Attendees and speakers at the symposium included present and past ABFM board members, leaders from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and its member boards, and other organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The purpose of the symposium was to initiate a dialogue around key components of the future of board certification.

For the first time in over 10 years, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) plans to develop a major revision of the Family Medicine Residency Guidelines. The ACGME Family Medicine writing group, led by Stacy Potts, MD, will convene in the late fall of 2020, with the formal process beginning in early 2021. A major revision provides a rare and important opportunity for the specialty of family medicine–convening conversations across the specialty and bringing forward substantial evidence to bear, while coordinating with the ACGME through the process.

Understanding how family medicine care evolves is imperative given the importance of team-based care and evidence suggesting that a team-based structure is essential for the primary care workforce to meet the chronic and preventive care needs of the population.

An increase in burnout among early career family physicians has raised concerns about how well family medicine retains its graduates. However, a recent ABFM study found 9 out of 10 of family medicine residency graduates over a 24-year period remained in the primary care workforce, designating family medicine as their primary specialty. Between 1994-2017, 66,778 residents completed training in an ACGME accredited family medicine residency, with 81% certifying with ABFM in 2017.

A vibrant and rich research enterprise is vital to family physicians and other primary care providers, enabling them to find answers to questions relevant to services provided to patients, in all stages of health. Extensive literature that captures research productivity across a number of topics, countries and disciplines is regularly used in hiring, annual reviews, promotion and grants.

Declines in patient visits during COVID-19 shutdowns is projected to cost U.S. primary care $15 billion in revenue by the end of the year, with full-time primary care physicians, on average, losing more than $65K in revenue in 2020.

The full article, Primary Care Practice Finances In The United States Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic, can be found by clicking here.

Previous research has shown higher burnout rates among physicians when compared to other US workers. Physician burnout is particularly concerning as it can not only lead to worse patient outcomes, but also affect the physician’s own health.

Practicing obstetrics (OB) used to be fairly common for family physicians, but in the last 40 years, that number has steadily declined with only 8% of family physicians practicing OB in 2016. However, 22% of recent graduates plan to include OB in their practice.

Physicians, including primary care physicians, experience a higher rate of burnout than those in many other professions. In a special issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, entitled Well-Being of the Health Care Team, several studies by researchers at ABFM report on factors affecting burnout in family physicians.

Addressing social determinants of health is essential to reducing pervasive health disparities, yet physicians still struggle with methods to identify patients’ needs and how to address those needs.

Total annual health care expenditures in the US doubled between 2002–2016, growing from $810 billion to $1617 billion, while the already small proportion spent on primary care declined to 5.4%. This means that approximately a nickel out of every dollar spent on healthcare went to primary care, which has been declared the ‘central function’ of any effective health system internationally. The US health care system continues to underperform relative to the health systems in other high-income countries.

In 2016, primary care physicians provided 54.5% of all patient care visits and are the same physicians who manage the most of the care for people with high-risk conditions that make them vulnerable for contracting coronavirus. However, most primary care practices are seeing a 30–70% reduction in patient visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family physicians with sports medicine specialty training spend a significant amount of clinical time providing primary health care. According to a new study by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), a majority of Sports Medicine Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) holders spend less than 60% of their time providing sports related care. Researchers found few differences in scope of practice between sports medicine family physicians and family physicians without a CAQ with 24% of sports medicine family physicians providing inpatient care and 4% delivering babies.

Correlation of cognitive knowledge acquisition throughout the continuum of medical education and practice has been a subject of great interest to medical educators and the specialty board community. Research done by the American Board of Family Medicine showed that formal knowledge assessment examinations administered throughout medical training correlated with graduates’ performance on the ABFM Initial Certification Examination performance.

Drug overdose deaths have increased dramatically in the United States. Opioid use disorder (OUD) and opioid-related overdoses contribute to nearly one in five pregnancy-related deaths and are a major cause of death after delivery.