Health care system chaos should spur innovation: summary of a report of the Society of General Internal Medicine Task Force on the Domain of General Internal Medicine

Ann Intern Med. 2004 Apr 20;140(8):639-43. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-140-8-200404200-00011.


The Society of General Internal Medicine asked a task force to redefine the domain of general internal medicine. The Society believes that the chaos and dysfunction that characterize today's medical care and the challenges facing general internal medicine should spur innovation. The task force proposed the following recommendations. Remaining true to its core values and competencies, general internal medicine should stay both broad and deep, ranging from uncomplicated primary care to continuous care of patients with multiple, complex, chronic diseases. Postgraduate and continuing education should develop mastery. Wherever they practice, general internists should be able to lead teams and be responsible for the care given by their teams, embrace changes in information systems, and aim to provide most of the care required by their patients. Current financing of physician services, especially fee-for-service, must be changed to recognize the value of services performed outside the traditional face-to-face visit and give practitioners incentives to improve quality and efficiency and provide comprehensive, ongoing care. General internal medicine residency training should provide both broad and deep medical knowledge as well as mastery of informatics, management, and team leadership. General internal medicine residents should have options to tailor their final 1 to 2 years to fit their practice goals, often earning a certificate of added qualification in generalist fields. Research should expand to include practice and operations management, developing more effective shared decision making and transparent medical records and promoting the close personal connection that both doctors and patients want. The task force believes that these changes will benefit patients and the public and reenergize general internal medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internal Medicine / organization & administration
  • Internal Medicine / trends*
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States