ABIM Foundation Announces Awardees of Medical Professionalism Grants, Projects Address Issues of Trust and Accountability in Health Care System

December 16, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Philadelphia, PA As part of a new initiative, Putting the Charter into Practice (PCIP), the ABIM Foundation has awarded $120,000 to a diverse group of health care organizations for medical professionalism projects that address the challenges physicians face in delivering patient-centered care, managing the distribution of finite health care resources, handling unprofessional behavior and other complicated ethical situations. Among the grant recipients are the Cleveland Clinic, the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, the National Physicians Alliance, the Ohio State University College of Medicine, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and a collaboration between the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Northshore University HealthSystem. The Council of Medical Specialty Societies assisted in the design of the grant program. The grants were awarded in November 2009 and results are expected in Spring 2011.

Using social media, video vignettes, story telling and other creative methods, the projects include innovative strategies to help physicians with problems they confront every day in practice. The grants were awarded in diverse practice settings, including health systems, hospitals, academic medical centers and medical groups.

Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter, established in 2002 by the ABIM Foundation, the ACP Foundation and the European Federation of Internal Medicine, served as a guide for the organizations developing the grant proposals. The Charter sets forth professional responsibilities such as honesty with patients, improving quality of care, access to care, and managing conflicts of interest.

Research released in 2007 (Annals of Internal Medicine) found that while physicians support the responsibilities articulated in the Charter, they often have trouble living up to the ideals. The Foundation established PCIP to help physicians and health care systems design programs to incorporate the ideals into their practice of medicine and the delivery of health care.

"As the health care system has evolved, so has the role of the physician. Physicians need better tools to practice in today's challenging health care environment," said Christine K. Cassel, President and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. "These innovative and important projects will support physicians in their efforts to do what they have always wanted to do put the health and well being of the patient and the community at the center, by building trust with their patients and their community."

ABIM Foundation awardees include:

- Cleveland Clinic: Engaging faculty in reflective writing about clinical experiences to increase empathic behavior in the physician-patient encounter. Topics as diverse as patient suffering, cultural barriers, and empathic communication of treatment plans will be addressed.

- Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center: Training a few physicians to become Physician Charter/Professionalism Coaches (PCPCs). The PCPCs will use "time-outs" and "coaching techniques" to interact with hospitalist physicians during their clinical shifts to heighten awareness and promote dialogue about the applicability of the Charter's principles to their work.

- National Physicians Alliance: Using comparative effectiveness studies to determine a list of "5 Things You Can Do in Your Practice" to appropriately conserve health care resources in internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine and sharing with physicians, in a virtual community, how the list can be put into practice.

- Ohio State University College of Medicine: Collecting narratives and stories from physicians about times when they were able to successfully demonstrate the values of the profession at its best, despite difficult circumstances. These stories will be analyzed to identify factors that support professional resiliency, and the stories and analysis will be shared through educational programming.

- Society of General Internal Medicine: Developing video case studies and scenarios that can be used in regional and national workshops to address key elements of the Physician Charter, including managing conflicts of interest.

- University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Northshore University HealthSystem: Developing video vignettes that depict three types of "unprofessional" interactions that are prevalent in the hospital, which will be used to facilitate interactive reflection and discussion with residents and hospitalists.

"It is often hard to discuss 'professional' and 'unprofessional' behaviors in the abstract, and the video vignettes we are producing as part of this grant will be an effective learning tool to engage residents and faculty in a discussion about medical professionalism," said Vineet Arora, MD, Associate Director, Internal Medicine Residency, at the University of Chicago and an ABIM Foundation PCIP grantee. Diane B. Wayne, MD, Program Director at Northwestern University and project collaborator, agreed. "Our multicenter team looks forward to addressing these issues to promote professionalism in our respective Chicago-based institutions," she said.

The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations, and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. In addition, the Foundation provides counsel to the American Board of Internal Medicine in their efforts to improve the quality of health care.