The annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP) was held from May 5 to 7 in Washington, D.C., and attracted more than 6,000 participants from around the world, including internists, adult medicine specialists, sub-specialists, 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, the ACP launched the pediatric-to-adult health care transitions initiative, which was created to help address the issue of children and adolescents transitioning from pediatric patient care into adult care, which can be a difficult adjustment.
“This is particularly true when young adults have chronic conditions such as diabetes, Turner syndrome, and/or psychological or intellectual disabilities,” said Neil Kirschner, Ph.D., of the ACP Regulatory and Insurer Affairs. “All of a sudden these patients who are cared for by a pediatric care team they have grown comfortable with reach the age of 18 or so and their care goes to another adult care team, which can cause issues. This is the case if they are not prepared in terms of their new responsibilities and don’t have adequate knowledge about themselves and the type of care they really need.”
The ACP, with the help of many other primary care, specialty, and patient advocate organizations, developed a tool kit based on a general transitions program developed by Got Transitions, a federally funded program which individualizes transition based on specific conditions.
“This will help pediatric specialists, adult practitioners, patients, and their families transition young adults effectively from pediatric to adult care and reduce the risk of complications,” Kirschner said.
The ACP also unveiled a toolkit during the conference that aims to help physicians combat climate change and address the associated human health consequences.
“There are several items that are really important practicing clinicians can do to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Nitin S. Damle, M.D., president of the ACP. “It is essential that practicing clinicians understand and act to reduce their carbon footprint in their practice as well as in their personal lives.”
According to Damle, mitigation strategies that clinicians can implement include using energy efficient lighting, recycling and purchasing recycled products, installing electric car charging stations, using filtered water instead of water bottles, carpooling, and utilizing more bike and walking paths. In terms of hospital systems, the hospitals can make decisions to implement green building design; properly manage food waste and water consumption; and install energy efficient lighting, heating, and air conditioning.
“Climate change is a human health problem. Air pollution is an issue tied to climate change that can lead to increased rates of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations, as well as more severe and longer allergy seasons. In addition, heat waves put people at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially the elderly, young children, and the poor,” Damle said. “In addition, food insecurities become an issue due to food crop and nutritional value changes and increased prevalence of infectious diseases such as waterborne diseases (cholera, typhoid, Escherichia coli, Vibrio) and vector-borne diseases (Lyme disease, dengue, Chikungunya, and malaria). There is also a risk for increased mental illness such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. All these health effects will not occur in some distant future but are happening now and that is why the ACP has issued this call to action.”
In addition, the ACP held a panel discussion addressing the impact of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) on physicians and patients. MACRA was signed during the first half of 2015 in an effort to stop threats of Medicare payment cuts and to make payment value-based.
“ACP was encouraged last week that the proposed rule to implement MACRA makes significant improvements in simplifying the administrative burden and introducing greater flexibility in meeting requirements of quality reporting,” Wayne Riley, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., immediate past president of the ACP, said in a statement. “ACP has been a leader in payment reform because we want payments that better align with value, rather than volume of care.”
The panel provided insight into the new payment system and gave physicians tips on preparing for the system. The panelists discussed the benefits of implementation and the reduced administrative burden physicians will carry which, in turn, will reduce burnout and allow physicians to provide the care needed by patients.
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