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Family Physicians Say They Need to Protect Scope Their of Practice

It seems that more than just the chiropractic profession is concerned about the constriction of scope of practice. Family physicians need to guard their scope of practice, John Cullen, MD, outgoing president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), told the academy’s Congress of Delegates.

“I am concerned about how the scope of practice is for family physicians. I worry a great deal that we're being defined by other entities -- by health systems, by other specialty colleagues, who are trying to really narrow what we do as family physicians."

"That definition is going to get narrower and narrower and narrower and more confining for us, until finally we are in such a small box that the value proposition of who we are" makes it hard to recruit more people to the specialty, he continued. "We need to blow the walls and top off that box. We can do so much more as family physicians, and the technology is really coming along so we can do so much more for our patients.”

"Telemedicine is a tool, but it is not a solution for access." On the other hand, being able to access any type of specialist at any time “is going to be a game-changer for us as a specialty; we're going to benefit from it more than any other specialty, and it's going to allow us to do more and more in our offices."

Douglas Henley, MD, who will soon retire from his position as the academy’s executive vice president and CEO, also bemoaned the specialty's narrowing. 

"I don't understand the narrowing of scope," he said. "We must stand for our own self-determination and not allow others to define our specialty for us."

Henley addressed the rise of artificial intelligence or AI, quoting from a talk by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla in which he said, 

“Radiologists are toast ... because in a decade, when AI technology has advanced, people who are still in this field will be causing deaths because they continue to still practice radiology."

“He also said oncologists will be surpassed by domain-specific AI solutions that will make oncology much easier to automate than the job of a factory worker ... but he went on to say that at the same time, the human general practitioner will be more valuable and work with more AI solutions to move upstream into more specialized medical fields."

“Many think these changes are implausible; I do not.  Will it commoditize what we do? I think the real [issue] is that family physicians shouldn’t miss the chance to embrace these technologies and move upstream."

The needs of the patients we serve are far too critical for us to sit by idly.  America’s healthcare is not an object that can be left to chance or to a legislative roll of the dice.

The same statement has long been true for the chiropractic profession.

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