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MANAGING PATIENTS

The growing importance of value-based care during COVID-19

Lisa A. Eramo bio Quality over quantity. It’s the fundamental concept behind value-based care (VBC). Providers are paid for rendering care that improves outcomes and lowers costs. During COVID-19, VBC is critical, and in many ways, the transition couldn’t have emerged at a better time. Here are five reasons why: Skyrocketing healthcare costs Healthcare costs have been on the rise long before the pandemic struck, and they certainly haven’t slowed down. VBC incentivizes providers to cut costs by using lower-cost—but equally as effective—drugs and devices. Practices can work with their life science reps to learn more about the value proposition for certain medications, devices, and more. VBC also incentivizes providers to perform procedures in lower-cost settings (i.e., outpatient vs. inpatient facilities). Each of these actions will help level out the… . . . read more.

HIPAA

New OCR data shed light on the costs of privacy noncompliance

HIPAA enforcement isn’t nearly as fat a cash cow as enforcement of False Claims Act (FCA) and other healthcare fraud laws is, it still takes a lot of money out of the pockets of providers and into the hands of the federal government. But tracking the economics of HIPAA enforcement is tough because the government doesn’t publish data on HIPAA recovery amounts the way it does with the FCA. However, new data from the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has recently emerged that offers some rare insight into the dollars and cents of HIPAA enforcement over the past two decades. Here are some of the key figures, which encompass April 2003, when HIPAA first began being enforced, through 2020: $129,722,482: Total amount of civil penalties and settlements collected by… . . . read more.

CMS

Two new telehealth resources for your practice and your patients

In response to the increased use and expanded coverage of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, From Coverage to Care (C2C) released two new resources to support providers and patients in making the most of virtual care: Telehealth for Providers: What You Need to Know – Providers can learn how and when to use telehealth. Topics include how to set up telehealth services, how to conduct a successful visit, and how to keep up to date on telehealth payment (particularly for Medicare and Medicaid). Telehealth: What to Know for Your Family – Patients can find out the types of care they can receive through telehealth, how to prepare for an appointment, what to expect during a visit, and more. This resource is also available in Spanish. Providers and partners can download graphics to post… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

How to proactively communicate COVID-19 FAQs to patients

By Lisa A. Eramo bio COVID-19 has forced medical practices nationwide to embrace change as well as rethink workflows and care delivery. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available, practice managers have even more to ponder—particularly how to communicate with patients about vaccine-related FAQs. Only 46% of respondents to a recent survey said they plan to get the vaccine. Many questions remain for those who aren’t sure or who definitely don’t plan to take it, and providers must be well-positioned to instill and build confidence. They must also be prepared to answer logistical questions such as how and when to make an appointment for the vaccine. Providing critical information all in one place helps avoid tying up the practice’s phone lines or generating a large number of email messages through the patient portal…. . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

5 tech resources improving medical practice efficiency this year

By Alison Foster bio There was a notable increase in the adoption of healthcare technology by practices and providers in 2020. This continues in 2021, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up. Many practices are short on both human and financial resources and need to increase efficiency to the maximum. Here are some forms of healthcare technology you can rely on to optimize your practice’s efficiency in 2021. Cloud computing Keeping patient data safe and accessible is critical in healthcare. Traditional methods of storing patient data often have challenging retrieval and sharing processes. Cloud computing solves many of these problems and is fast becoming the go-to choice for many practices. Electronic health records stored on the clouds means that providers and authorized personnel can access patient data… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

Putting patients first is the best way of enhancing the doctor-patient relationship

By Dr. Neil Baum bio There is nothing in my practice of medicine that equals the joy of focusing on my patients and making every effort to ensure each encounter fosters a positive experience. Well, maybe one thing: positive outcomes. In my experience, the patients with whom I’ve developed close and trusting relationships seem to be better at following treatment plans, which helps improve positive outcomes. For decades, research has found strong indicators that the quality of the doctor-patient relationship impacts health outcomes. One significant finding is that the physician’s knowledge of the patient’s disorders and emotional state is associated positively with whether the physical ailments get resolved. Evidence shows that patients who feel they are not heard or are not respected by their doctors suffer poorer outcomes. A study from Massachusetts General Hospital… . . . read more.

COVID-19

What do I say to patients who ask about my team’s vaccination status?

By Paul Edwards bio As vaccinations continue to be distributed to more and more members of the American workforce, one of the recurring questions we are getting concerns how to respond to patients who ask about whether or not your team has been vaccinated. Patients might pose this question over the phone before their scheduled appointment, or might ask it to one of your employees during their visit. Your employees’ health information is protected In response to such a question, it’s important to remember that your employees’ personal health information is protected in just the same way as your patients’ health information. Therefore, it is generally not a good idea to offer information to your patients that might expose any of your employees’ inability (or unwillingness) to get vaccinated. If… . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

Google search interest in “telehealth” spikes 317% because of pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a world of change, some of which might be permanent. Will we ever again pack concerts with close to 100,000 people or jam into subways like sardines? Will mask-wearing and social-distancing carry on long after the pandemic has ended? Has online shopping delivered the final nail in the coffin for brick-and-mortar shopping? Will traditional education give way to virtual learning? Will telehealth services and online doctors replace a sizable chunk of in-person doctor visits? That last one is entirely possible according to a new study completed by OnlineDoctor.com. By tracking national and state-by-state Google Search trends over a two-year duration, OnlineDoctor found there’s been a massive uptick in consumer telehealth interest since just about the exact day a national state of emergency was declared in… . . . read more.

Tool

Model waiver of COVID-19 infection liability sign to post at your medical office

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by clients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office facility as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is by conspicuously posting a sign at the entry of your facility indicating visitors’ agreement to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections by entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Sign below uses fairly conservative language that has been found to be enforceable in other situations. Caveat: The inclusion of the phrase purporting to insulate you against your own negligence in Sections 3 and 4 is fairly risky and you may want… . . . read more.

CONSUMER FRAUD

Warn your patients not to fall for COVID-19 scams

Pharma companies, diagnostics manufacturers, labs and other parts of the healthcare industry have done a commendable job in pivoting in response to the current public health crisis. Sadly, it seems that you can say the very same thing can also be said about the scammers. On Nov. 23, the OIG issued a new alert warning the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. The face of COVID-19 fraud The OIG says that scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to collect personal medical information of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to commit identity theft and fraudulently bill federal health care programs. And if Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test billed, the beneficiary could also end up being responsible for the cost. OIG describes the different methods… . . . read more.


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