In the News
The COVID-19 Pandemic Digest
By Michelle Prentice, MD MSc – All Saints Family Medicine Residency PGY3
From atop the pandemic’s first peak, we can reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the pandemic response thus far. As attention and debate inevitably shift toward the loosening of social restrictions, “[w]e must remain vigilant and disciplined” in our population health approach, for our patients, our families, and for each other’s families.In preparation, this issue will discuss important elements for vigilance and discipline, including:
- Global concern regarding under-reporting of COVID-19
- Removal of U.S. funding from the World Health Organization
- Testing capabilities and “immunity passports”
- The Covidnearyou.org tracker
- Racial disparities in COVID-19 cases
- Cautionary tales of re-socialization from across the globe
- President Trump’s 3-Phase plan for re-opening the economy
- PPE challenges
- The AAFP Foundation Relief Fund and other funding opportunities
The results of our first survey have also been made available to you, and a second survey is being distributed. We are using their results to further advocacy and educational efforts. We appreciate your participation and hope you find the results informative.
All Saints Family Medicine Residency PGY3
Dr. Prentice is a 3rd year resident with the Medical College of Wisconsin – All Saints Family Medicine residency, training in their Urgent Care track. She is also a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine, with clinical and academic training from public health and preventive medicine programs, such as the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response analyzing frontline health care facilities preparedness for the ebola outbreak, as well as investigational work the Public Health Ontario in Toronto on an active Hepatitis A outbreak. She has also worked closely with the University of Ottawa Public Health and Preventive Medicine residency on their didactic curriculum, and has been a population health researcher for Ontario’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
The Benefits of Pre-booking Vaccines for the 2020-2021 Flu Season
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there have been at least 19 million flu-related illnesses so far this flu season. Unlike past years where the influenza A virus has dominated the first half of flu season, this year the influenza B virus, or Victoria virus, has been predominant. The unpredictability of this flu season is a reminder for practices that it’s never too early to begin preparation for the next flu season.Read More
Five changes that will affect physician payment and productivity in 2020 and beyond
As usual, the new year brings changes in how doctors code and get paid for the services they provide to Medicare patients, as described in the Medicare physician fee schedule update. There are a host of things family physicians should know for 2020, as well as some changes to look forward to in 2021. Here are a few highlights:
1. New CPT codes for exchanging messages with patients through a secure online platform, such as an electronic health record portal, which allow time-based reporting of online digital E/M services,
2. New CPT codes for reporting services to develop and support blood pressure treatment plans in which patients measure readings themselves,
3. A new HCPCS code specifically for Medicare that will cover additional 20-minute periods of chronic care management services beyond the initial 20 minutes,
4. Increased payment for transitional care management services and an expansion of the list of services that can be reported concurrently, to include prolonged services, chronic care management services, and others,
5. In 2021: Revised office/outpatient visit codes that will permit physicians to choose the level of service based on either medical decision making or time (not just face-to-face time) alone; an increase in the relative value of these services; and an add-on code for visit complexity that can be used with most primary care visits.
The new Medicare physician fee schedule rule also includes some updates to the Quality Payment Program, the incentive payment program enacted in 2015 with the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA, to replace the sustainable growth rate method of determining updates to the fee schedule. But unlike past years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services chose to keep many QPP requirements stable from 2019 to 2020.
To learn more about all of the changes, read the full FPM article, available online ahead of print: “The 2020 Medicare Documentation, Coding, and Payment Update.”
ATLANTIC HEALTH PARTNERS EXPANDS ITS PROGRAM TO OFFER ADDITIONAL VACCINE SAVINGS!
Atlantic Health Partners has always been a strong resource for our members’ immunization efforts by offering the most favorable vaccine prices, terms, and purchasing support. We are pleased to share with you that Atlantic has expanded its program with the addition of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vaccines. This include options for practices interested in the GSK portfolio or for those practices just interested in using Bexsero (Meningitis B vaccine).
Atlantic now offers our members the full array of vaccine options to best meet your individual practice needs including:
- Most favorable pricing for Sanofi, Merck, GSK, and Dynavax vaccines
- A comprehensive flu program that includes Sanofi, GSK, and Seqirus products
- Meningoccocal B vaccine options that include both Trumenba or Bexsero
- No minimum quantity requirements to always receive most favorable pricing and terms
- Excellent and timely customer service including reimbursement support and advocacy
For information about the program please contact Jeff or Cindy at 800-741-2044 or email@example.com
Be Prepared: Protecting Vaccine Supplies Before, During and After a Disaster
The old adage “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” has been used throughout history and it still rings true today.
There’s little room for failure in clinical care. Preparation is an important aspect of everyday practice management and success, and it is never more critical than when a disaster strikes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all practices have a plan in place to keep their vaccine supply safe during an emergency. Common disasters that affect vaccine supply, include national vaccine shortages, as well as severe weather and other events that cause loss of electric power.
Workplace Flu Clinics: Encouraging Seasonal Health to Support Year-round Employee Wellness
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that American workers miss approximately 17 million workdays due to the flu each year, costing employers $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity.
One way employers can create a healthier workplace is by hosting on-site influenza vaccination clinics in the office.
Vaccine Record-keeping: A Team Approach for a Healthier Tomorrow
Keeping vaccine records up to date is key to a patient’s lifelong immunity and health. Official childhood vaccination records have been adopted by every state and territory to encourage uniformity, but limited interoperability in healthcare can make recordkeeping a challenge. As a result, responsibility falls on both the patients and providers for managing records throughout the patient’s life.
Are you looking to stay up to date on research into patient-centered, high-quality research? Then be sure to check out this newly released supplement to the Annals of Family Medicine. The Annals of Family Medicine is a peer-reviewed research journal to meet the needs of scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the patients and communities they serve.
The current Annals of Family Medicine supplement issue features editorials on facilitating practice transformation, and original research on a variety of topics including “A Longitudinal Study of Trends in Burnout During Primary Care Transformation”. Be sure to click the read more link for access to over a dozen research articles, editorials, and briefs in the August supplement. Read More
The HPV Vaccine: Moving Beyond Teenage Populations
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, first introduced in the U.S. more than 10 years ago, was designed to protect young women from cervical cancer. Since that time, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that HPV cancers and genital warts have decreased by 71% among teen girls. The vaccine’s success has led to research identifying new opportunities for protection against HPV among other patient populations that can help further drive down infection rates.
Aging and Immunity: The Important Role of Vaccines
Many aging adults are not up to date on recommended immunizations, leaving them at risk of illnesses such as pneumococcal disease, tetanus, and shingles. By educating patients about their risks, providers can help to improve and maintain their patients’ immunity in later years.
For information about the program please contact Jeff or Cindy at 800-741-2044 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bringing Family Medicine’s Past to Bear on Its Future
By David Mitchell (July 01, 2019)
Dennis Mychak, M.D., was only 51 when he died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but he made an impact on the small, Pennsylvania coal mining town where he grew up and to which he later returned to practice family medicine.
He also made a lasting impression on Aaron George, D.O., who was just 11 years old when he attended his uncle’s visitation.
“Everyone knew him,” George said. “He was a community icon. Hundreds of people were lined up down the block for the viewing. I thought, ‘This is how you make an impact on people’s lives.’ It was crystal clear to me that family medicine was unparalleled in touching people’s lives.”
After completing his training at the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program in Durham, N.C., in 2015 (which included a global health rotation in Vienna, Austria), George — like his uncle — returned to his small hometown in Pennsylvania to practice family medicine. His clinic was a mile away from his boyhood home, and his patient panel included his high school principal, his priest and old friends.
“I poured my heart into the expectation that I was going to be there for a long time to serve them,” he said. “I thought I would be there for 40 years. There’s something really special about the bond you form with the community you grow up in.”
The 2019 FMAS Experience
By Ariel J. Warden-JarreF, MD, FAAFP
To advocate beyond the comfort of our exams rooms or to chart while silent, that is the question. The FMAS Experience offers a unique opportunity or family physicians from around the country to join in a bipartisan way to advocate for health care initiatives that are important to ALL Americans.
It is invigorating to gather in a room with medical professionals who are all family physicians fighting the same fight to make America strong and healthy.
We all agree that primary care is important to this nation. We all agree that Family Physicians are well trained to meet the health care primary care needs in our nation. However, policy makers do not know the “secrets”we know. The FMAS Experience takes us to the source, and opens a door for us to cross pollinate ideas to continue the discussion with policy makers, who still, on many levels, don’t know what the average Family Physician does on a daily basis.
The FMAS Experience centers in on relationship building that should grow from year to year with policy makers. We become stronger when we are fighting in the right places.
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