President's Column 9/21/07
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Strategic Imperative #2:
Building the "ACPM Brand"
Michael D. Parkinson, MD, MPH, FACPM, President

To meet our nation's health and health care needs, ACPM and its 2,100 plus physician leaders must 1) grow the pipelineof preventive medicine specialists and physicians committed to disease prevention, health promotion and evidence-based system improvement 2) build the "ACPM brand" and 3) go "direct to the 3C's": citizens, consumers and new constituencies.

Last month I reviewed your College's "grow the pipeline" initiatives. Working with the ACPM Board and your energies, we will strive to create, disseminate and unapologetically promote the "brand" of the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Grounded as many of us are in the traditions and training of public health, I suspect the term "brand" raises concerns among some of our colleagues. Consumer Reports has a brand: unbiased evaluation of products. Volvo has a brand: safety. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a brand as does Mayo Clinic but what is ACPM's brand?

Organizations and companies which spend the time to define and strive to be true to their brand achieve their mission "better" than those who cannot or do not clarify and work toward their core value propositions. A merited brand is not "hype." It reflects the trust, confidence, reliability and differentiating characteristics which all products, services and interactions demonstrate. A good brand is enduring over years and decades - it isn't a press release, single program or "flash in the pan."

Your Board of Regents will be exploring and, with your help, defining the key characteristics of the ACPM brand. Not because it's "nice to do" but because it's a "need to do," not just for ACPM but for future of preventive medicine.All of our products and servicesshould reflect our brand.

And who are our customers? Physicians, physicians in training, employers, consumers and policymakers are all potential customers and ALL are seeking definitive information and support about "prevention." And because we AREphysicians, trained in and committed to prevention, public health and evidence-based medical practice, our brand can and should be particularly valued.

Yes, we are a physician specialty society and yes, core to our brand is our"physician-ness." Itdoes not mean, however,that as physicians webelieve physicians alone can solve most (orany) of the health and health care challenges facing our country awash in unhealthy behaviors with16%--going to 20%--of GDP in medical care spending. We do however believe physicians are "change agents," and we should lead the way in areas which demand our core competencies and perspectives.

I propose our "brand" lives at the critical but unaddressed interfaces between individual, clinical medicine and population, public health approaches to health promotion, supportive communitiesand medical care delivery.We are guided by a sophisticated understanding of epidemiology, behavior change and economics.

Bottom line: any organization can achieve its mission faster, better and more efficiently when it can define and promulgate its brand through value-added products and services. Build the ACPM brand. Send your Regional Regent and your Categorical Regent your thoughts and aspirations of how "ACPM" should be viewed in your mind, in that of your physician and non-physician colleagues, in consumers, legislators and citizens. Why would or should they come to ACPM as the voice for Preventive Medicine? How can ACPM support you as an advocate for and example of what ACPM stands for and can deliver?

We will know we've succeeded when stakeholders--lay, medical, political, and corporate--ask, "What does ACPM say, do or produce?"

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