Primary care must adopt team approach

September 28, 2006

Sept. 28 - Washington, D.C.- We are on the edge of a revolution in scientific knowledge, said Newt Gingrich, keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Scientific Assembly and former U.S. Congressman and speaker of the House of Representatives.

Sept. 28 - Washington, D.C.- We are on the edge of a revolution in scientific knowledge, said Newt Gingrich, keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Scientific Assembly and former U.S. Congressman and speaker of the House of Representatives.

"There are more scientists alive now than in all of the past combined. We have better instruments, better computers, and better connectivity," he said.

Gingrich also said there needs to be an entirely new model of continuous medical learning as the amount of scientific knowledge continues to grow. The amount of new knowledge in the next 25 years, he says, is expected to be four to seven times the amount accumulated in the past 25.

"There will be better practices, not best practices in the future," he said, explaining that the impending flood of knowledge will create a state of constantly changing medical practice.

The quantum leap in scientific knowledge will be facilitated by the declining cost of computer power, Gingrich said. "The cost is now declining twofold every 16 months, which means you can get twice the power for the dollar every 16 months."

The changing world of technology is generating a new model of family practice, Gingrich noted. One that is wireless, Internet-based, and places the doctor at the center of a team of helpers-a model long standard procedure for surgical specialists. The great accompanying challenge to these changes is to generate a new compensation model that values disease management and prevention and team coordination.

Gingrich also noted a need for Americans to be more accountable for their own health behavior in the future, adding that family physicians will be more important than ever because they are best suited to help the number of patients who will suffer from chronic diseases-including cancer, one day in the near future-manage those conditions.

In a wide-ranging presentation that drew significant applause, Gingrich also suggested changes in the educational system to decrease childhood obesity and asserted the need for a better, balanced relationship between the number of practicing physicians and the number of trial lawyers. He cited significant malpractice reforms in Texas and Missouri as models that might be implemented nationwide.