May 31, 2010

AMA Mimics TMA Insurance Conduct Code

Taking a cue from TMA, the American Medical Association released its own Health Insurer Code of Conduct Principles and called on all health insurers to adopt consistent corporate practices that will bring transparency and accountability to the health insurance industry.

Congress Leaves, Medicare Fees Cut

Oh, so now they’re worried about spending too much money?

Medicare payments to physicians dropped 21.2 percent June 1 because Congress opted to go on vacation without doing anything to stop it. The Senate recessed for Memorial Day without acting after attempts to approve a House-passed bill delaying the cut – part of legislation extending unemployment benefits – failed because some Senators balked at the cost of the approximately $143 billion bill.

FTC Delays “Red Flag Rule” Until December

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has delayed until Dec. 31 enforcement of the 'red flag rule' that was scheduled to take effect June 1.

HSR Tele-Town Hall Meeting a Success

As part of its campaign to help Texas physicians survive and thrive in the new health care environment, TMA educated 4,200 Texas physicians and medical students on the details of the new health system reform law in a statewide telephone town hall meeting May 27.

May 24, 2010

2003 Redux? Physicians Fear Medical Training Funding Cuts

Texas faces shortages in virtually every recognized medical specialty, but experts say the need for primary care doctors is particularly critical. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee began a study of the current and long-range need for physicians and other health professionals in the state. TMA officials say that study is definitely timely, but fear there may be little opportunity to expand training for physicians due to the state's projected budget shortfall. From May's Texas Medicine

Lawsuit Challenges Red Flag Rule

The American Medical Association (AMA), American Osteopathic Association, and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia sued the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) May 21 to keep it from forcing physicians to comply with the FTC's 'red flag rule' that takes effect June 1.

Medicaid Fee Cut Impact Lessened

State officials released their spending cuts May 18, and it appears there's a little bit of good news for some physicians in the state Medicaid program.

Balance Bill Mediation Required by Law

State law requires facility based physicians to notify patients that they have the right to mediate balanced bill disputes for services are provided at a network facility by a facility-based physician who is out-of-network.

May 19, 2010

A Guide to Medical Software for Apple Computers

The Latest from Chris Thorman at Software Advice

Is it possible that the next time you go in for a checkup you and your doctor will be lamenting over Microsoft while updating your medical records on Safari?

We’re hearing more and more questions about Mac compatibility from physicians interested in electronic medical records (EMR systems). Many providers, notably smaller offices, are choosing Apple computers over PC-based systems to run their practice. Their reasons are the same reasons consumers choose Mac products: stability, simplicity and “coolness.”

On the surface, it appears that Apple’s popularity in the consumer market is starting to creep into the medical practice market. Physicians like their home Macs and their iPhones, so they want the same hardware in the office.

May 17, 2010

TDI Examines Pharmacy Benefits Managers

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is asking physicians for information on their experiences with pharmacy benefits managers.

May 15, 2010

United Ends H1N1 Special Payments

Saying that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that H1N1 cases have steadily declined since last fall, UnitedHealthcare is ending emergency reimbursement measures it instituted in October 2009.

How Are We Doing?

We want to know if we're meeting your communications needs through Action, Texas Medicine, and the TMA website.

Doctor Who Promotes Bike Helmet Use Was Saved By One

TMA physician Ernest Neal Charlesworth, MD, is helping to promote TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads program, which urges children to wear bike helmets, and to exercise. After suffering a serious bike crash, he credits his own helmet with saving his life. “I simply would not be alive today if I had not had a helmet on,” Dr. Charlesworth said.

May 14, 2010

Law Requires Electronic Death Registration

Texas law requires all cause-of-death information and medical certifications to the Texas Department of State Health Services to be submitted electronically through the state's online death registration system, the Texas Electronic Registrar.

Health Reform Answers a Phone Call Away

Because it's hard to know exactly what's in the unbelievably complex and lengthy health system reform bill, chances are you're asking, 'What does it mean to me? What does it mean to my patients?'

Stick by your phone the evening of May 27 to find out.

Reform Bill Slightly Raises Medicare Fees

Although the health system reform law did not fix the Sustainable Growth Rate's impact on the Medicare conversion factor, it does mean physicians in most areas of the state will receive small fee increases retroactive to Jan. 1.

May 11, 2010

What It Means: TMA Analyzes Pros and Cons of Health System Reform Law

Congressional passage of the health system reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sent physicians and patients scrambling to examine the fine print to determine how the new law will impact health care for all Americans. TMA launched a massive new education campaign to help Texas physicians and their practices survive and thrive in the new health care environment. From this month's Texas Medicine.

Medicare Melting Down: Congress Still Avoiding Permanent Fix

Texas Medical Association leaders say there is no doubt members of Congress understand the importance of fixing the broken Medicare physician payment system. They understand it. They just haven't done anything about it. From this month's Texas Medicine.

TMA Wins Four IABC Bronze Quill Awards

TMA won four Bronze Quill awards from the International Association of Business Communicators.

Medicaid Webinar May 19

Texas Medicaid program officials will conduct a free Webinar from noon to 1 pm CDT May 19 to educate physician about Medicaid initiatives.

Sign the Petition, Get 10 More

Have you signed the Stop the Medicare Meltdown petition yet? Have you asked your friends, family, and neighbors to sign it? If not, please do so today.

May 4, 2010

Maximum Overdrive: Increasing Patient Satisfaction with Automated Messaging

Submitted by an exhibitor at the recently concluded TexMed 2010.

By James F. Wilson, B.S., EMT

Senior Account Executive
Personal Communications, Inc.
1918 Vestavia Court
Arlington, TX 76018
214-606-5180
jwilson@phonetree.com

Abstract:

With the explosion of electronic and technologic devices and systems aimed at healthcare, it becomes increasingly difficult to decide not only which ones to invest in, but also how to maximize their full potential. Automated Messaging Systems are rather inexpensive investments that truly increase revenue and efficiency. However, the majority of practices with these systems are not utilizing the full potential of their Automated Messaging Systems.

As the Medical Home concept comes back to the forefront, the need to efficiently provide personal superior patient care with the utmost of customer satisfaction. If used to their full potential, Automated Messaging Systems can assist you in providing exemplary patient satisfaction.

Key Words:

Automated Messaging Systems, Patient Reminders, Medical Home, Patient Satisfaction, Efficiency, Quality, Increased Revenue

Call-Outs:

  1. Implementing automated appointment reminders will reduce no-shows dramatically while freeing up valuable clinic staff time.
  2. The reduction of no-shows recovers lost revenue that can save your practice several thousand dollars per year.
  3. The purpose of this article is to address the “additional” applications that many are unaware of and that can greatly enhance your patients’ satisfaction, knowledge and safety.
  4. If all additional applications of Automated Messaging Systems are used to their full potential they can assist in providing the best patient care possible.
  5. Automated Messaging Systems can be used to follow up with patients that have a new diagnosis or care plan.
  6. Imagine being able to send a personal message to all of your patients concerning a current event health crisis!

Maximum Overdrive

May 3, 2010

Bitter Budget Ahead - Podcast TMA

Texas' next legislative session might prove to be more bitter than sweet. The state will confront a potential budget deficit of at least $11 billion next January. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus have asked all state agencies to reduce their current budgets by up to 5 percent to cover the monetary shortfall. The funding reduction proposal for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) slashes about $100 million in state general revenue funds to the department.

This installment of Podcast TMA features commentary from Jeffrey Levin, MD, chair of the Texas Medical Association Council on Public Health, and Vince Fonseca, MD, MPH, former state epidemiologist, on the long-term effect reductions in public health funding could have on the state's residents. The cover story of the May 2010 issue of Texas Medicine magazine delves into the DSHS budget-cut proposal and examines the state's current public health funding levels.

This installment covers:

  • Proposed reductions in Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan physicians' payments;
  • Money-generating alternatives; and
  • Reasons public health funding is particularly vulnerable during economic downturns.

Please note that unless stated otherwise, the opinions expressed in this podcast are the individual physicians' and not the official position of the Texas Medical Association.

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