Elation at FMX 2022 November 11, 2022
By: Dr. Sara Pastoor
Every year, the American Academy of Family Physicians hosts a massive conference, known as “FMX” — the Family Medicine Experience. Thousands of family physicians from all over the world gather to learn, connect, exchange ideas, gain new insights, make new friends, and get exposure to hundreds of vendors. For the past two years, this event has been held virtually due to public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the event was finally held in person again (in Washington, D.C.), and the AAFP organizers went the extra mile to make it feel like a reunion celebration.
It was our first time together in person after enduring battles, hardships, losses, reinvention, and resilience over the past two years. More primary care providers have been lost to COVID-19 than any other medical specialty, and for many in independent practice, the financial blow dealt by the pandemic meant some unexpected life and career changes. The total impact on family medicine physicians and the communities they serve, both positive and negative, may not be fully realized for years to come.
I have attended FMX in years past, but never as an official primary care evangelist working for an innovative EHR company purpose-built for the unique needs of primary care. What an experience!
First, I was a panelist in a presentation of Elation’s collaborative work with the AAFP’s Innovation Lab. I was so proud to talk about the incredible results shared in that report, where we demonstrated the power of practice, payment, and technology innovation to drastically reduce stress and administrative burden in the family medicine experience.
I also attended several discussion groups and presentations about technology in primary care and value-based payment arrangements. All of these conversations confirmed for me that Elation is on the right strategic path, with our laser focus on developing our product to support the needs of primary care in a value-based world.
I was invited by the AAFP to serve as a consultant offering several 20-30 minute small group consultation sessions as a national expert in health technology for primary care. This turned out to be a popular opportunity, even though these consultations were a new offering at FMX this year. The demand for these sessions speaks to the crucial role technology plays in a PCP’s day-to-day life and the unfortunate gap in industry solutions to make the unique and valuable work of primary care more efficient, effective, and enjoyable.
I think what impressed me the most at this event was how stunned family docs are when they see an Elation demo and hear about our story. The biggest barrier to broader adoption is that they either don’t know about Elation or they are employed and not the EHR decision makers. We definitely generated some buzz this year and kept our sales team at our booth busy. We have plans to go even bigger next year and I cannot wait.
An interesting fact I learned at FMX this year is that more health outcomes are determined by one’s zip code than by one’s genetic code. Healthcare can’t solve our health problems in the U.S. — we need to invest in social systems and infrastructure as better performing peer nations do, where they invest over twice as much in social support but spend less than half per capita of our $4.1T per year on healthcare. It is estimated that 900,000 Americans die annually just because of social determinants of health. This is the equivalent of 8 jumbo jets crashing every single day, killing everyone on board.
I see this in action every Sunday morning when I volunteer at a “free” clinic downtown in my city. (I put “free” in quotations because it is free to the patients and staffed completely by volunteers, but funded by local donors, with additional monetary donations by the volunteers themselves and small fundraising efforts.) Our patients are people who live without housing, without food, without transportation, but with serious persistent mental illness or chronic/acute and often complex medical conditions who have no safety net and no access to a usual source of healthcare. I treated a diabetic this past Sunday whose insulin had been confiscated by the police, along with all of her belongings, when her encampment was raided. She has been living on the street for a long time, unemployable due to her multiple medical conditions, but unable to get through the complex disability process — primarily because she’s disabled and incapable of navigating the wickets. She couldn’t afford to buy more insulin at the pharmacy, so her best plan was to go to the emergency room every day just to get an injection of insulin. Fortunately, we had more insulin to give her.
It’s clear that we have some big issues to tackle in the year ahead, and it seems almost every issue lands in the lap of a PCP eventually. Although primary care in America has struggled, primary care — unlike any other medical specialty — also sits on tremendous untapped potential to contribute tangible solutions to society that can change lives for the better. I am grateful for the work of the AAFP in advocating for family physicians specifically and primary care in general — in the areas of payment reform, workforce development, primary care investment, and social and health inequities. I’m proud to work at Elation, where we are deeply committed to the same goals and are working together with like-minded partners to help solve tough problems which none of us could solve alone.