Lifelong Learning Improves Patient Care, Invigorates Physicians
By Sean Powell, MD, a practicing family medicine physician in the San Diego-based Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Director of Medical Education for The Permanente Federation
In medical school and residency, the acquisition of new knowledge and its application to patient care was the best part of the experience. It was in these moments that we made our transition from student to doctor. Hours of study and tests were worth it in that moment when we learned how to help make our patients better. Even though I am attending now, learning a new technique, trick, or clinical pearl still feels as exhilarating as it once did and makes me excited to use my newfound wisdom to make people better.
As Director of Medical Education for the Permanente Federation, I oversee the ABMS Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program™ (Portfolio Program) for eight Permanente Medical Groups whose physicians provide care to more than 12.2 million members. I strive to pay forward that sense of exhilaration and empowerment to participating physicians. We have been a Portfolio Program sponsor since 2011. To date, we have more than 130 ongoing quality improvement initiatives and more than 5,000 physicians have completed projects for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credit.
One recent MOC activity aimed at reducing the number of patients on high dose opioid prescriptions was developed by leadership in San Diego. They noticed that too many patients were on chronic, high dose opioids (defined as >100 milligram equivalents of morphine daily), and therefore at high risk of medicine-related adverse events. Like this one, many of our activities originate at the local level and are aligned with national quality goals. The activity was a huge success, resulting in cutting the number of patients on high dose opioids in half during a two-year period. It helped the organization close a care gap and the participating physicians gained better opioid prescribing practices and received MOC credit for the work they put in.
Read more on the Portfolio Program website...
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