Why are SGIM’s external relations so important?
When SGIM’s Council asked me to serve as Chief Executive Officer in 2017, one of its top priorities was to expand and strengthen relations with other organizations. The premise is that SGIM will have a stronger voice in influencing national policies if we all work closely with organizations having goals relevant to our mission of cultivating innovative educators, researchers, and clinicians in academic general internal medicine, leading the way to better health for everyone. At a time when that mission is more important and more challenging because of the pandemic, our external relations become even more essential.
How does SGIM prioritize its external relations?
In January 2020, the Council approved a new strategic framework for guiding our approach to external relations. The framework explicitly focuses on strategic priorities relevant to our main organizational goals. To address our goal of advocating for a just health system, we seek to partner with organizations that share interest in improving support for primary care physicians and hospitalists, or in eliminating disparities in health care access and outcomes. To address our goal of fostering development of general internal medicine leaders, we want to collaborate with entities that will provide leadership opportunities for members or that can help to enhance and expand career development programs. To achieve our goal of promoting scholarship in person-centered and population-oriented approaches to improving health, we nurture relationships with funding agencies that can help to stimulate innovative work and increase funding for scholarship in clinical care, education, and research in general internal medicine. Consistent with the goal of fostering the health of our organization, we look for partnerships that can provide additional funding for initiatives, that can help to grow membership, or that can increase the visibility of our members.
What tactics do we employ to strengthen SGIM’s external relations?
Our strategic approach to external relations relies on regular communication, with overall coordination and continuity provided by the CEO, and active engagement of the SGIM President and ACLGIM President in high priority relationships. For some relationships, we strengthen connections by engaging other members of the Council and ACLGIM’s Executive Committee and/or chairs of SGIM committees or commissions. Some relationships have grown stronger by partnering on specific initiatives. For example, we have partnered with the American College of Physicians (ACP) on the ProudtobeGIM Campaign1 and the High Value Care Coordination initiative.2 Such partnerships require approval by the Council or ACLGIM’s Executive Committee. Finally, we pursue collective advocacy by working with other organizations on high priority policy issues, most often through our Health Policy Committee, and sometimes through other committees, commissions, or interest groups.
What are some examples of relationships that have grown stronger in recent years?
Within the broad field of medicine, SGIM has always had a close relationship with the ACP, and that relationship has grown stronger through partnerships on specific initiatives and increasingly frequent communication and coordination between the ACP’s health policy team and our Health Policy Committee. This past year, we expanded our annual joint leadership meeting with the ACP’s leaders to include leaders of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) and the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM). At the joint meeting, we identified areas of common interest that we plan to work on together. Although we cancelled the 2020 Academic Hospitalist Academy because of the pandemic, we plan to continue working with SHM on future plans for the Academic Hospitalist Academy. We also have been working more closely with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and intend to do so even more in the coming years, especially given the AAMC’s new strategic plan emphasizing its commitment to better health for everyone.3
As part of our efforts to work more closely with other primary care organizations, we became an executive member of the Primary Care Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to advancing an effective and efficient health system built on a strong foundation of primary care and the patient-centered medical home.4 We also have found new opportunities to collaborate with family medicine societies, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
In the area of governmental relations, we have continued to advocate for strong support of federal funding agencies most likely to support the work of our members, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service. Our leaders have met with the leaders of these agencies to offer input and learn more about their priorities.
I see our expanding external relations as evidence of SGIM’s growing influence. Such relationships are more important than ever as we work toward our vision for a just system of care in which all people can achieve optimal health.