Current Bulletin

  • Take Your Quality Program to the Next Level With CQU

    Are you and your team looking to hone your leadership skills to navigate the new quality initiatives? If so, the Leadership in Clinical Quality or Clinical Quality University (CQU) program, part of the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership, can help.

    This team-based course prepares and supports physicians and their staff, as they drive quality improvement projects from planning to implementation and then sustaining the project within their organization through leadership development. CQU also leverages the physician leaders’ unique knowledge, skills and attitudes to build teams, enhance communication and develop core leadership competencies.

    Over the course of the program you and your colleagues will discover what works for your practice and how to sustain the changes while acquiring new skills that will serve both your practice and professional growth in tangible and intangible ways.

    Applications will be accepted until Feb. 15. Get all the details here and apply today. If you have questions, please contact Erin Grover, egrover@ncmedsoc.org.

     
  • NCMS’ LEAD Health Care Conference Taking Shape

    While Oct. 18-19 may seem a long way off, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is hard at work developing innovative content for this new and exciting conference. At their meeting on Jan. 13, the NCMS Board of Directors discussed what topics would be most timely and intriguing to their colleagues throughout the state, and how to make this the not-to-be-missed health care event of the year.

    The LEAD Health Care Conference website is now live, www.ncms-lead.com, and is the place to go to stay up to date on additions to the line-up of speakers and entertainment for the conference. If you or some organization you know might be interested in sponsorship or exhibiting at the conference you can download the Sponsor Prospectus or the Exhibitor Prospectus to explore these opportunities.

    See you in Raleigh in October!

     
  • Coalition Issues Statement on Prior Authorization Reform

    Last week, an AMA-led coalition including the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) issued a Consensus Statement outlining the shared commitment to industry-wide improvements to streamline the prior authorization approval processes to enhance patient access to timely, appropriate care and minimize potential disruptions. The statement is the result of more than a year’s work including a survey of physicians, including NCMS members, on their impressions of prior authorization (review the results here) and follows a series of Prior Authorization and Utilization Management Reform Principles.

    According to the Consensus Statement, health care leaders will work together to:

    • Reduce the number of health care professionals subject to prior authorization requirements based on their performance, adherence to evidence-based medical practices, or participation in a value-based agreement with the health insurance provider.
    • Regularly review the services and medications that require prior authorization and eliminate requirements for therapies that no longer warrant them.
    • Improve channels of communication between health insurance providers, health care professionals and patients to minimize care delays and ensure clarity on prior authorization requirements, rationale and changes.
    • Protect continuity of care for patients who are on an ongoing, active treatment or a stable treatment regimen when there are changes in coverage, health insurance providers or prior authorization requirements.
    • Accelerate industry adoption of national electronic standards for prior authorization and improve transparency of formulary information and coverage restrictions at the point-of-care.

    The coalition is committed to continued collaboration to improve the prior authorization process. Visit the Prior Authorization page on the AMA website to stay up to date on this reform initiative.

     
  • Vaccine Underpayments Will Be Paid by July 1, 2018

    The $10-$12 million in underpayments for vaccine administration in 2013 and 2014 will be paid by the end of June, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance Dave Richard told the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Committee for Health and Human Services last week. The underpayment affected approximately 2.5 million vaccinations administered to Medicaid patients under the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.

    Last year, the North Carolina Pediatric Society and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (NCAFP) along with eight member practices were victorious in their lawsuit to correct underpayment of the vaccination administration fees. In November, the NC Division of Medical Assistance (DMA/Medicaid) decided not to appeal the Superior Court’s decision that they must rectify the underpayment of Medicaid vaccine administration payments made in 2013 and 2014. Superior Court Judge Beecher R. Gray allowed DMA until November 2018 to reprocess the claims.

    Richard told committee members NCTracks programming to re-process the underpayments is underway and will be made by the end of the state fiscal year, June 30. DHHS is identifying all codes that were underpaid and will remit the difference directly to each affected practice, so no action is needed by practices and physicians who may be owed payments. Practices will be reimbursed $6.74 per qualifying vaccine.

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) once again congratulates the NC Pediatric Society and the NCAFP for this important legal victory on an issue that the NCMS and the other organizations have long advocated to correct.

     
  • New Federal Guidance Paves Way for Medicaid Work Requirement

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued new guidance for states seeking to implement a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. North Carolina is one of 10 states to submit a demonstration project proposal to CMS under which work or participation in other community engagement activities – including skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving – would be a condition for Medicaid eligibility for able-bodied, working-age adults. This would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to a disability, elderly beneficiaries, children, and pregnant women.

    The AMA has strong policy in opposition to Medicaid work requirements, and although noting the new guidance from CMS does include safeguards to protect Medicaid enrollees from losing coverage, the AMA anticipates increased administrative burdens due to patients seeking medical exemptions in states that implement the work requirements.  Read the AMA’s policy.

     
  • First Lunch and Learn Webinar of 2018 Rescheduled for Feb. 2

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation Lunch and Learn Webinar originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 16, has been rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 2, from noon to 1 p.m. The topic is “Choosing Wisely: When Less is More for Your Patients: Addressing the Overuse of Tests & Procedures,” and will feature Yates Lennon, MD, MMM, FACOG.

    Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and education material developed by Consumer Reports. The campaign helps health care providers and patients engage in conversations about the overuse of tests and procedures and supports efforts to help patients make smart and effective care choices.  Thanks to a grant from Choosing Wisely, the North Carolina Healthcare Quality Alliance partners with Duke Health, Cornerstone Health Care, the NCMS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics to treat viral infections in adults along with several other tests or procedures. Dr. Lennon’s webinar includes an overview of Choosing Wisely, his local experience in the Cornerstone Health Care practice, results and findings and tips on implementing the program in a local practice.

    Learn more and register.

     
  • Physicians Make an Impact in North Carolina – See the Facts

    The AMA’s recently released 2018 Economic Impact Study shows the extent to which physicians drive the national, state and local economies. Here at a glance is the impact physicians have in North Carolina. Review all the study’s findings including more specific data for North Carolina.

     

     
  • Data Reveals Impact of Opioid Epidemic in NC

    A recent report provided by the North Carolina Healthcare Association (formerly the NC Hospital Association) graphically illustrates  the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic in our state.

    Late last year the White House Council of Economic Advisors published a report on the economic burden attributable to opioid overdose deaths. The study estimated it to be $450.4 billion or 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product in the US in 2015. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released national mortality data for 2016 revealing that life expectancy had dropped and that nearly 42,000 Americans had died from opioid overdose in 2016 marking a one-year, 29 percent increase from 2015.

    Review the info graphic with results of the report.

     

     
  • How to Keep Your Practice ‘Cyber-Secure’

    A recent AMA survey shows that more than four-fifths of physicians have experienced some sort of cyber attack in their practice. Many attacks could have been avoided with internal controls and staff training, according to the AMA.

    The research found that 64 percent of affected practices experienced up to four hours of downtime as a result. A third lost up to a day and a half more than that.

    The survey of 1,300 physicians by Accenture and AMA found that more than half of the attacked practices, 55 percent, were victims of phishing — most likely, someone on staff clicked on a malicious link in an email. In addition:

    • Almost half (49 percent) experienced computers infected with viruses or malware. This typically results from someone downloading an infected file.
    • For more than a third of the affected practices (37 percent), an employee or other insider inappropriately accessed or attempted to access protected health information (PHI).
    • One-fifth had a breach of electronic PHI.

    Here are some tips the AMA offers to keep your practice cyber secure:

    1. Teach your staff how to recognize and react to phishing emails.
    2. Do not allow employees to install software on their networked computers without permission.
    3. Have formal, written staff policies regarding general computer usage and PHI in particular, train your staff, and hold them accountable for their actions.
    4. Encrypt and password-protect all computers, cell phones, tablets and laptops.
    5. Give each employee a separate user account on your computer network.
    6. Require employees to use passphrases for their computer accounts and to change them periodically. A passphrase is a string of text longer than the usual password. Using words or phrases that have a particular association to the user makes them easy to remember, like “5thhouseElmStleft.” Consider using two-factor identificationas well.
    7. Always know what computers, cellphones, tablets and laptops you have, and where they are. Lock up laptops not in use.
    8. Limit who has log-in rights to each device.
    9. Give administrative privileges only to key personnel.
    10. Equip each of your computers with antivirus software and antispyware; configure the software to install updates automatically.
    11. Regularly patch and update your software and your computer and server operating systems to prevent them from being vulnerable to new malicious software.
    12. Safeguard your internet connection by using a firewall and encrypting information.
    13. Enable security features on all devices and accounts, such as two-factor identification and tracking features.
    14. Hide your Wi-Fi network by setting up your wireless access point or router so it doesn’t broadcast the network name.
    15. If you want patients to have access to Wi-Fi, provide a guest Wi-Fi network separate from your practice network. Use different passwords for each.
    16. Back up data consistently, and keep multiple copies. Test recovery regularly to make sure backups are working.
     
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