History

The Foundation For Medical Excellence was created in November 1984. Its mission is to promote quality healthcare and sound health policy. To achieve its mission The Foundation develops and presents a wide range of educational programs, provides consultative services and sponsors in depth research.

The formation of The Foundation sprang from a seed planted during the 1970s. In response to the troubling detection of many cases of inappropriate drug prescribing and of physicians impaired by substance abuse, the Board of Medical Examiners (BME) sought solutions through educational activities.

As the Medical Board expanded their responsibilities into medical malpractice, sexual misconduct and other issues, The Foundation provided educational programs and research in those areas as well. Also during this time The Foundation focused on issues surrounding managed care, which was having a considerable impact on physician-patient communication. As a result of its experience in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in 1994 The Foundation created the NW Center for Physician-Patient Communication. In 1997 the Foundation created the Institute for Physician Leadership and the NW Center for Physician Well-Being.

In 1998 The Foundation successfully sought full accreditation of its educational activities by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Thus physicians could obtain Category 1 continuing medical education credit for attending The Foundation’s formal offerings and TFME could mount courses outside the Pacific Northwest.

During the past nine years The Foundation For Medical Excellence has been focusing an increasing amount of its time on developing activities around healthcare policy. These include a wide array of lectureships that enable The Foundation to bring worldwide experts to the Northwest to discuss a wide array of healthcare issues. In addition, The Foundation created the Oregon Health Assessment Project (OHAP) which has issued two major reports which boldly proclaim that the present healthcare system is broken and needs considerable change to meet the needs of Oregonians and others in the 21st century. In January 2006, it launched the Archimedes Movement under the direction of Governor John Kitzhaber, MD. The Movement is committed to building a meaningful opportunity for engagement through which the growing concern over our health care system can be channeled into effective action. The Archimedes Movement now includes over 7,000 people and 40 chapters statewide.

During this time period another salient feature of The Foundation emerged and this was the facilitation of collaboration amongst the region’s competitive healthcare providers. The Foundation’s neutrality, like that of Switzerland, provided a safe forum for honest discussions of the common good for the community. Propriety issues were not raised by these intelligent, altruistic colleagues. Just as physician suicide, and malpractice forced the BME into the public arena at its creation, The Foundation’s later activities brought health care providers of all stripes together to consider and fund collaborative goals. The ecumenical environment continues as a unique strength epitomized by quarterly discussions by more than 50 healthcare leaders at The Foundation’s Sunrise Leadership Forums.

A special form of education has evolved over the last twenty years, flexible in its responses to the needs of healthcare while acceptable to diverse interests and capable of a wider perspective than any single organization could have achieved on its own. These competitors recognized a deeper, greater good for the community. Some have referred to TFME has a meta-university, a university without walls. Popular courses on the value of improved physician-patient communication, physician leadership, detection and management of depression, and addiction have evolved over the past ten years. These offerings do not duplicate standard continuing medical education about diagnosis and treatment of illness, the domain of formal continuing medical education. Thus gaps in physician education were filled, responding to the turbulent reorganization of healthcare with its evolving reimbursement strategies and organizational alliances.