Public Health


As the only medical association in San Francisco to represent the entire spectrum of medical specialties and interests, the San Francisco Medical Society (SFMS) has been a champion for community health issues since its inception in 1868. Our policymaking efforts through collaborations with state/national medical and political leaders, as well as articles in our award-winning journal have given us a reputation for being influential far beyond San Francisco. The SFMS agenda and activities continue to focus on the community and the following areas of involvement:

  • Forming HealthShare Bay Area to improve patient care and reduce costs
  • Working with the physician community to promote the adoption of electronic health records to better serve patients
  • Advocating against cuts to Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursement to provide continued access to care for all San Franciscans
  • Preserving the health care safety net and public health programs in times of severe budget cuts
  • Supporting anti-tobacco legislation and San Francisco’s law banning the sale of tobacco in pharmacies, and smoking in restaurants and other businesses, and eliminating tax credits for films showing smoking
  • Supporting the Healthy San Francisco program and participating in legal defenses to preserve the program, while helping to monitor the program’s progress
  • Providing physicians for medical consultation for San Francisco schools and for volunteer care at community clinics
  • Working on legislation to allow minors, without parental consent, to receive vaccines to prevent STIs; to prevent bans on medical procedures such as circumcision; and more
  • Cosponsorship of the Hep B Free program in San Francisco
  • Advocacy for improving end-of-life care in the Bay Area via new policies, use of new advance directives (such as POLST), and educational outreach to physicians and patients

How SFMS Serves the Community

Healthshare Bay Area

Working under the auspices of the SFMS Community Service Foundation and guided by a diverse board of San Francisco and Bay Area health care industry professionals, the SFMS worked to develop HealthShare Bay Area to provide the infrastructure for a unified electronic health record system. The project originally targeted San Francisco but now includes partners from the East Bay. This service allows providers to have access to secure community-wide patient data. It also permits patients to gain a complete view of their medical records, irrespective of where individual records may reside. HSBA will launch in 2012.

Universal Access to Care

SFMS leaders have long advocated that every San Franciscan should have access to quality medical care. Recent SFMS participation in this effort has included the Mayor’s Health Care Reform Task Force, the San Francisco Health Care Services Master Plan Task Force, and the Mayoral Task Force, which designed the Healthy San Francisco program. SFMS also joined in the lawsuits to preserve that program. SFMS advocates have advocated for community clinics since the founding of the original Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics in the 1960s.

Medical Liability Protection

The CMA and SFMS were instrumental in passing MICRA, which saves virtually every doctor many thousands of dollars in liability premiums annually and saves hospitals and health systems much more. We have successfully defeated repeated attacks on MICRA by trial lawyers through the years.

Rebuilding/Preserving San Francisco General Hospital 

SFMS spokespersons took a lead in advocating for full funding of the seismic rebuild and in advising, as members of the Mayoral committee, where and how that would occur.

HIV Prevention and Treatment

The SFMS was at the center of medical advocacy for solid responses to the AIDS epidemic, being among the first to push for legalized syringe exchange programs, adequate funding, and more. 

School and Teen Health

SFMS helped establish and staff a citywide school health education and condom program, removed questionable drug education efforts from high schools, worked on improving school nutritional standards, and provides medical consultation to the SFUSD school health service.

Environmental Health

SFMS established a nationwide educational network on scientific approaches to environmental factors in human health; has advocated on reducing mercury, lead, and air pollution exposures; and much more.

Reproductive Health and Rights

SFMS has been a state and national leader in advocating for women’s reproductive health and choice, including access to all medical-indicated services.

Blood Supply

SFMS has long been a partner of the Blood Centers of the Pacific and seeks to help increase donations.

Organ Donation

SFMS has been a leader in seeking improved donation of organs to decrease waiting lists, via education and new polices regarding consent and incentives for organ donation.

Operation Access

SFMS is a founding sponsor of this local organization providing free surgical services to the uninsured and has provided office space, volunteers, and funds.

Drug Policy

SFMS has been a leader in exploring and advocating new and sound approaches to drug abuse, including some of the first policies regarding syringe exchange, medical cannabis, and treatment instead of incarceration.

Medical Ethics

SFMS has developed and promulgated forward-looking policies and approaches regarding end-of-life care, patient directives, physician-assisted dying, and other topics of interest to patients, physicians, policy makers, and the general public.

Follow Us On

The SFMS helped saved the Haight free clinic from the start, and I've been a loyal member ever since. So much of state and national impact has come from there and the SFMS has helped in many ways.

David Smith, MDFounder, Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinics