Dr. Saultz on the future family physician



March 13, 2014

John Saultz, M.D., professor and chair of family medicine, addressed the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Feb. 1 with a keynote speech on the future family physician. Dr. Saultz – STFM’s current president – spoke about aspects of health care and medical education which all specialties must grapple with during an era of health care reform, shifting delivery models and an increased emphasis on quality.

Here, we excerpt themes of his talk and a few memorable quotes. The full 22-minute video is embedded below.

Patient engagement and MyChart

Dr. Saultz reported that more than 90 percent of patients in OHSU family medicine clinics are using MyChart on a monthly basis:

"At first, we were pretty worried about whether that was going to be a disaster. It felt like it was intrusive. Well, it's a lot less intrusive than the phone ringing. … You only have to respond to an email or a MyChart message one time. It's improved clinic efficiency pretty dramatically."

Practice analytics

OHSU family medicine providers and staff use Epic data to analyze, organize and improve their practice across four clinics. Monthly reports are posted in a shared space, which allows colleagues to see progress and encourages healthy competition. “This is a science of family medicine that has never been in our grasp before. … We’re playing with this every day, and it makes me pretty excited to come to work.”

Getting there wasn’t necessarily easy and it didn’t happen overnight. Dr. Saultz said all family medicine physicians decided collectively what standards of care were going to be, based on published and professional standards. “Changing practice based on data is a really big, hard task.”

The future of primary care

Near the end of his speech, Dr. Saultz said he sees “a new model of population health emerging in our country,” which is interdisciplinary, accessible, continuous and patient-centered. And, it’s based on team responsibility:

"I will tell you that my partners are my professional family. Family medicine isn't just family medicine because we take care of families, we're family medicine because we practice like families."