The annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP) was held from March 30 to April 1 in San Diego and attracted more than 6,000 participants from around the world, including adult medicine specialists, subspecialists, medical students, and allied health professionals. The conference highlighted recent advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illnesses in adults, with presentations focusing on updates in neurology, oncology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and cardiology.
During the conference, internists from the ACP presented recommendations for preventing and managing substance use disorder.
"Twenty-two million people have substance use disorder and only 18 percent are being treated. It leads to family dysfunction, loss of work, and other chronic disease," said Nitin Damle, M.D., immediate-past president of the ACP in Washington, D.C. "There is a lack of treatment programs, lack of education for clinicians on correct prescribing and patients on the risk and complications of substance use disorder."
According to Damle, substance use disorder is a rising epidemic and needs to be addressed with education and funding for prevention and treatment. The recommendations highlight access to care and treatment, improved physician training, establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and improvement of existing monitoring programs.
"Practicing clinicians should educate patients about substance use disorder and check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing," Damle said. "Physicians should prescribe at the lowest dose of short-acting opioids when absolutely needed for the shortest period of time."
The ACP reaffirmed that excessive administrative tasks can negatively impact patient care. With this in mind, the College has published a paper to provide practicing clinicians with an outline to guide consideration of administrative tasks.
"Administrative tasks for practicing clinicians have grown over the years due to a variety of factors," said Shari Erickson, M.P.H., vice president of Governmental Affairs and Medical Practice at the ACP. "For practicing clinicians, we hope that this paper provides a recognition and understanding by the College with regard to what they are facing on a daily basis -- trying to see and provide the best possible care to their patients, while being significantly hindered with an overwhelming volume of administrative tasks."
The paper lays out a solution-based thought process that involves considering the source, intent, impact, and potential solution. After careful examination of the tasks, the ACP provides a series of recommendations to be taken into consideration on administrative tasks.
"In order to address, streamline, and in some cases eliminate unnecessary or overly burdensome administrative tasks, we hope that this paper serves as an invitation for practicing clinicians to engage with the College and with the other key stakeholders involved (particularly those that are sources of many of these tasks) in a meaningful way -- so that we can begin to fix the system as a whole rather than fighting one smaller battle at a time, uncertain if we are making any progress," Erickson added.
In addition, the ACP launched a new tool to aid internists in preparing for the Quality Payment Program (QPP) under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.
"The new ACP Quality Payment Advisor educational tool is intuitive to the needs of clinicians participating in the QPP," Erickson said. "The tool helps practicing clinicians with determining who is eligible for the QPP, which reporting pathway is best to utilize, as well as quality measure/activity selection and implementation. The Quality Payment Advisor provides a systematic approach to preparing for the new QPP."
In addition, the tool guides the user through a series of questions toward an understanding of which pathway is most appropriate for their practice.
"These questions include things like whether or not is one's first year of participation in Medicare, if one is in an alternative payment model such as the patient-centered medical home or not, what 'pace' of participation one expects to pursue (i.e., test, partial, or full), whether or not the clinician has been participating in Physician Quality Reporting System or Meaningful Use in the past, etc.," Erickson explained. "This series of questions is then used to identify the likely pathway and readiness within the QPP, provide them with a report to use for planning purposes, and also point them to more tailored information and resources to help ensure success."
This is a tool that is available for free to all ACP members to provide education and point to tools and resources to help ensure success under the QPP.