Monday, March 24, 2008

Sad days for the American Academy of Family Physicians: AFP and FPM behind the paywall

The AAFP is putting American Family Physician and Family Practice Management behind a paywall. After April 1 new issues will only be available to members.

This is sad news. For years I've admired the academy's policy of public access to AFP, it's been a great patient and provider information resource. No more.

The academy is also restricting the default distribution of Family Practice Management to members in office practice; a good change overall but probably another indicator of diminishing advertising revenue. I suspect there are other economy measures going on that aren't being communicated to members.

What's going on?

I'm still a member, but I'm very removed from the AAFP these days. I don't really know. My guess is that advertising revenue, in particular, is down. I also wonder if membership is falling off; I suspect a lot of members were unhappy when the Academy failed to resist the peculiar board certification changes implemented by the American Board of Family Medicine [1].

It fits with a ten plus year trend of declining interest in primary care in general, and family medicine in particular. I think the crowd is wrong again, but I fear it will be another ten years before we rediscover that primary care physicians are a cost-effective way to deliver quality care. I also wonder if pharmaceutical advertising revenue is down across the board -- the pharmas are thought by many to be entering a period of grim economic news.

I hope the AAFP will reconsider. I'd be very surprised if removing AFP from public access is going to help finances and/or recruiting in any significant way. This is a bad economizing measure.

[1] Admirable in theory, in practice they're the equivalent of putting a patient with congestive heart failure on a high speed treadmill.

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