The American Medical Group Association presented the annual Medical Group Preeminence Award to The Southeast Permanente Medical Group (TSPMG) at AMGA's National Conference on Physician Directed Health Care, being held February 21-23, 2002 in San Diego. The award honors exceptional leadership in AMGA member medical groups.

AMGA's Executive Committee awarded the leadership team from The Southeast Permanente Medical Group (TSPMG) in Atlanta, Georgia for successfully turning around the group as they were facing business failure. The group was plagued by high debt and perceived service problems. They used a variety of methods that resulted in 20 percent increase in appointment capacity, and they promoted appropriate hospital utilization by pioneering the hospitalist concept. They were able to achieve this turnaround while maintaining a very high level of quality. In 2000 the group achieved the first in the nation on three NCQA quality measures and best in class in 10 areas, and they became Atlanta's first health plan with an "excellent" NCQA accreditation for both its commercial and Medicare products.

"This group overcame amazing odds to realize such a remarkable turnaround," said Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., AMGA's President and CEO. "We were especially impressed by their ability to maintain a high level of quality while in the midst of such a thoroughgoing transformation. The breadth of the accomplishment of this leadership team is an inspiration to all struggling medical groups."

TSPMG's leadership team consisted of Bruce C. Perry, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director; William Boddie, M.D., Associate Medical Director; Debra Carlton, M.D., Associate Medical Director; Lee Jacobs, M.D., Associate Medical Director; and Michael Doherty, M.D., Associate Medical Director. The goals of their turnaround plan were to (1) change the culture to one of physician ownership and empowerment, and (2) improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness in providing health care.

The Medical Group Preeminence Award is presented annually to an AMGA member group or IPA physician administrator leadership team for exceptional leadership; innovation and vision; contributions to the advancement of quality; effective health care delivery practices and structure; and outstanding contributions to the local public community in which the medical group or IPA is located. Previous recipients include Colorado Permanente Medical Group, Lovelace Health System, Northeast Arkansas Clinic, and Watson Clinic Foundation.