Leadership News

GAFP Leader, Samuel L. Church, MD featured in AAFP FPM Journal Blog

The parking lot visit: how it works

Samuel L. Church, MD, MPH, and Jessica Grooms, CMA, care for a patient in the parking lot of Synergy Health in Hiawassee, Georgia.

In an effort to minimize patient and staff exposure to infectious pathogens (COVID-19, influenza, etc.), many offices are redefining the waiting, triage, and exam rooms. Some clinics are conducting parts or the entirety of the patient encounter in the parking lot — either in a tent or in the patient’s car.

These visits begin with a brief patient evaluation by triage staff, including the collection of vitals and even flu and strep swabs. Physicians and qualified health care professionals (QHPs) then complete the visits through decision algorithms and face-to-face encounters in the parking lot or the exam room, depending on the initial evaluation.

While parking lot visits are most commonly used for patients with fever or infectious symptoms as a way of keeping them isolated from healthy patients, even some healthy patients are requesting follow-up visits in the parking lot, hoping to minimize their exposure as part of social distancing efforts. Some patients are even requesting to have their routine lab draws collected in the parking lot. Interesting times indeed.

Certainly the parking lot format can disrupt the patient flow everyone is accustomed to, and there are limitations if patients need certain examinations or procedures, but patients and clinicians seem generally pleased with these encounters in our clinic.

Because there is some inherent loss of privacy with the parking lot visit, staff should take steps to minimize exposure of protected health information (PHI). Creative solutions include schedule spacing, distancing vehicles, and even having the encounter in a drive-through tent.


These encounters are subject to the same coding and billing requirements as if they were conducted in the exam room. If the patient does not see a physician or QHP, E/M codes are limited to 99211, along with whatever point-of-care testing is conducted.

There may be new expenses related to these visits including tents, personal protective equipment (PPE), and additional staffing. At this point, there is no mechanism to capture these costs, although it is recommended to keep track of them. Keep in mind that some cases may create additional visit complexity or time, which can be captured through E/M visit levels. In addition, there may be opportunities for businesses and individuals to recover some or all disaster/emergency related losses through state and federal programs.

This article was featured in the AAFP FPM Journal click here to read more. 

Update to GAFP Members – COVID-19

To:  GAFP Members

From:  Jeff Stone, MD, MHA, MBA, FAAFP – President

During this critical time in our lives, family medicine physicians remain a vital asset to our communities and the state of Georgia.  The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians understand that in this time of uncertainty surrounding mass gatherings and travel, your safety is priority.

Close to Home 

We hope you will join us for our online CME next Wednesday evening, March 18th at 8:00 pm to get up update on AAFP and Georgia COVID-19 resources and how to best utilize telemedicine.  Register here

Our office staff is working from their homes – but they are still available to you by email – or calling the office at 404-321-7445.

AAFP COVID-19 resources (updated on a daily/hourly basis) – Click here

Georgia Department of Public Health Information and Resources – Click here

Upcoming Summer CME Meeting – Sandestin Resort – June 3-6 

We are hopeful that regularly scheduled meetings will be back on track by early summer.  We are in constant communication with the resort property, faculty and our partner (the Georgia Primary Care Association) for the June meeting.

The GAFP has made the decision to offer a full refund for this meeting if it is canceled, rescheduled or moved to a different format.

Currently, the hotel cancellation policy is to refund all required deposits for any cancellations or changes received seven days in advance of your arrival date.

We will continue to update you as we consult with both Georgia and local Florida public health officials and our faculty and will let you know if we need to postpone this meeting or move it to a different format.  We will update members by email as well as on our website – www.gafp.org

Final Thoughts 

I, along with the rest of the leadership and staff at the Georgia Academy and the Georgia Healthy Family Alliance, are here to support you during this pandemic.  Hoping that you and your family and patients are safe.


Jeff Stone, MD, MHA, MBA, FAAFP – GAFP President

Reducing Regulatory Burden – Georgia Academy Supports Congressional Action

Over the past 10 years, insurers have substantially increased the use of prior authorization in an attempt to reduce health care costs. While the Regulatory Relief Coalition understands the importance of such utilization tools, patients are now experiencing significant barriers to medically necessary care due to prior approval requirements for items and services that are eventually and routinely approved.

Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS), and Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) introduced the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3107) on June 6, 2019. The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act would help protect patients from unnecessary delays in care and reduce administrative burden for physicians by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program. This bipartisan legislation has more than 180 Congressional cosponsors. The House Ways and Means Committee may mark-up H.R. 3107 in the coming weeks, so it is important to signal to Committee leadership that this legislative proposal has strong support from external stakeholders. AAFP anticipates introduction of a Senate companion bill later in the coming months.  The Georgia Academy has joined the AAFP and other state chapters in endorsing House Resolution 3107 and any additional Congressional action that will reduce our current regulatory burdens.



Next Steps for Potential for GAFP Group Association 401K Plan

Update by President Jeff Stone, MD, MBA, MHA, FAAFP

Your leadership reviewed information from outside consultants and member feedback for offering a new member benefit with a Multiple Employer 401K Plan.  At the end of 2019, the Executive Committee dedicated additional budget funds and asked senior staff and consultants to move forward with seeking a recordkeeper that will implement the plan including outreach and marketing to our members.

As President, I formed a small Task Force with members who have a strong background in finance.  We will be meeting at the end of February to select a recordkeeper and move forward with plan development.  More information will be sent to all members as we get closer to launching this unique member benefit in the next 3-4 months.  We are excited to be supporting our members with their financial future.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact staff either EVP Fay Fulton (ffulton@gafp.org) or COO Angela Flanigan (aflanigan@gafp.org)


AAFP Leadership Conference – April 23-25, 2020 (preconference April 22) – Kansas City, Missouri Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center

To:          GAFP Colleagues (Active and Life Members)

From:     Jeff Stone, MD, MBA, MHA, FAAFP – President

If you want to get more involved in your state and national academies, being a delegate to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Annual Chapter Leadership Forum (ACLF) and the National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL) is the perfect opportunity.

Join your Georgia colleagues and network with over 300 family physician leaders from around the country at this vibrant meeting.  Whether you’re seeking professional development, leadership development, or a voice in policy development, the AAFP Leadership Conference is the place to network, learn, and train with hundreds of current and aspiring leaders in family medicine.

  • Redefineyour best self and empower other family physicians to do the same.
  • Reimagine your family medicine future and unlock your leadership potential.
  • Rethink your ways and what it takes to be a successful family physician leader.

In three days—and with two dynamic tracks available—don’t miss your chance to join aspiring leaders as you work together to advance the specialty of family medicine together.


Annual Chapter Leader Forum (ACLF)

The Annual Chapter Leader Forum (ACLF) is the AAFP’s leadership development program for chapter-elected leaders, aspiring leaders, and chapter staff. -Discover solutions to chapter challenges.

  • Learn from your colleagues.
  • Strengthen relationships with peers and AAFP leaders.
  • Refine leadership skills.
  • Develop new leaders.

National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL)

The National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL) is the AAFP’s premier policy and leadership development event for underrepresented constituencies.

  • Create powerful platforms for change and influence AAFP policies.
  • Inspire yourself, your colleagues, and other AAFP members. -Lead the way for progress and improvement.
  • Voice your unique perspective and opinion with others who share common interests.
  • Build leadership skills to use in your practice and community.

At NCCL, you will elect national officers, gain and enhance skills to become an articulate policy advocate and an effective leader, and meet others who share similar interests. Chapter delegates participate in all NCCL-specific business functions and have the opportunity to attend a variety of educational breakout sessions each day as well.

If you are chosen to be a GAFP representative to ACLF or NCCL, the Georgia Academy will reimburse your travel expenses up to $700 – $900*. (with the submission of an expense report and receipts).

*This travel stipend typically does not cover the cost of the entire meeting which is between $1,000 – $1,300. If you are interested serving as a delegate to ACLF or NCCL please email ffulton@gafp.org and make a brief statement of your interest no later than Tuesday, February 4. All nominees will be notified in mid-February in time to register for the “early bird” AAFP registration discount.

If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact Fay Fulton (ffulton@gafp.org) or call 800.392.3841.