By Jay W. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAFP
Family Medicine rising (#FMRising)? Yes, absolutely. Failure is not an option. The brokenness of today’s health care system needs our collective healing minds and hearts. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgency for systemic transformation unlike any period I’ve experienced in my career of 20-plus years. The pandemic has opened a historic window to rise up and become the leaders our health care system needs us to be. We will rise up: Family Medicine strong.
In the spring of 2011 (what is it about spring and revolutions by the way?), then-AAFP President Roland Goertz, MD, delivered a simple, but powerful, message: “Our Time is now.” America’s family physicians seized the moment. How? By utilizing social media to do what we do best: communicate.
Our vision was two-fold: 1) that family physicians and other primary care providers embrace this idea that we are better than how the status quo values us, and that we need to “revolt” against the fragmented health care delivery machine to shift away from volume-based fee-for-service and toward value-based care; 2) that the general public engages with #FMRevolution-aries and embraces the movement.
In the spring of 2011, Family Medicine Revolution was re-born as #FMRevolution. Our collective family medicine consciousness, like the mythical phoenix, arose from the ashes to become “Strong Medicine for America.” We have new tools for engaging strong warriors (or awakening long dormant ones) and for stoking the fire within our souls.
Since the birth of #FMRevolution, we have witnessed a surge in activity on various social media platforms highlighting the importance of family physicians in America’s communities and making a strong case for re-engineering (let’s call it “physician-eering”) the foundation of our health care system with a robust, dynamic primary care workforce.
A salubrious side effect of this social media movement has been a realization that there is a growing community of family physicians, medical students, patients, and others who understand the myriad messages about our specialty and who help amplify our voice. Since 2011, we have experienced well over 100,000 tweets worldwide. #FMRevolution has become integrated into our collective consciousness.
While we have come a long way in the past decade, we still have a long way to go. Whereas $13 in savings are realized for every $1 spent on primary care, only 5 to 8% of total health care spending in the United States is for primary care. Investing a paltry 5 to 8 cents per dollar in primary care is a nutritional deficiency for health care. It is no surprise that the robust system our patients deserve shows signs of anemia, with inequitable access and outcomes, and declining physician wellbeing. Patients who suffer from anemia deserve to have the root cause determined and their ailment corrected. In the same vein, our nation must commit to addressing the root cause afflicting health care with a strong primary care infrastructure so we can make health primary and live our best lives.
Family physicians know the answer to this problem, and through our #FMRevolution journey, we have learned to see the power of our leadership. Now we must show ourselves to be Family Medicine strong.
Our progress as a specialty, notwithstanding, with the cracks opened by the COVID-19 pandemic in an already fragile health care system, it is time to build on the #FMRevolution. It is time to build a system based on primary care that works for patients and for family physicians. It is time to build this moment into a movement. And I believe this movement will see #FMRising.
I believe in the transformational, healing power of Family Medicine even more now as a PGY-20 than I did as a PGY-1. As Dr. Goertz beseeched us, our time is now. Let’s rise up, Family Medicine. Let’s build the future together. Let’s seize the day and heal the brokenness of the system. Let’s do it for our patients and let’s do it for each other!
My name is Dr. Jay W. Lee. I am proud to be a family physician and I look forward to running as your #FMRising candidate for the AAFP Board of Directors in Washington, DC this September.