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News 4/27/20

April 27, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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Several dozen doctors in North Carolina who intended to leave Holston Medical Group in early September file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against their employer after HMG notified them their last day of practice would instead be April 3. The doctors, many of whom broke away from Novant Health in early 2019 in pursuit of less bureaucracy and more time with patients through employment with HMG, contend the company failed to provide necessary staffing, an adequate EHR, a working phone system, and timely supply of PPE.

Their initial decision to leave was prompted by corporate mismanagement, ongoing office closures, and recent furloughs. The doctors plan to eventually go back to hospital employment and operate an Atrium Health-owned practice under the name of One Health.


Webinars

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Announcements and Implementations

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App-based house call company Heal implements Health Gorilla’s Patient360 API to help its providers retrieve patient medical records from the vendor’s network of care facilities, including those with ties to CommonWell and CareQuality.

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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers free telemedicine visits to uninsured residents with questions related to COVID-19 and those in need of COVID-19 care as determined by state-based contact-tracing efforts. The state rolled out a chatbot-based screening and assessment tool from Buoy in March.


Government and Politics

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In Georgia, the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department leverages a Web portal designed by Treeno Software to automate the scheduling of COVID-19 tests at its two drive-thru sites.


Research and Innovation

Echoing sentiments Dr. Jayne shared recently from the virtual physician lounge, a separate survey of 842 physicians finds that:

  • Just under 40% care caring for COVID-19 patients.
  • Twenty-one percent have experienced furlough or pay cuts.
  • Fourteen percent plan to change practice settings because of the virus.
  • Nearly 20% plan to retire, temporarily close their practices, or shift away from patient care.

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Harvard University researchers analyze data from 50,000 Phreesia customers to determine that:

  • Visits to ambulatory practices dropped 60% between mid-March and remained low through mid-April.
  • The most dramatic declines were seen in New England and Mid-Atlantic states, and among surgical and procedural specialties.
  • A corresponding increase in virtual visits was not enough to offset the in-person decrease.
  • Nearly a third of all visits are now done via telemedicine.

Other

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MIT Technology Review looks at the still uncharted waters of physician influencers on social media, highlighting the tension many TikTok-friendly clinicians feel when attempting to ethically share credible information in a way that’s palatable to a platform’s users. Family physician and medical Youtube sensation Mikhail Varshavski, DO explains: “If you are a doctor and you’re popular and people look to you for guidance, and you believe your expert opinion without any kind of research to substantiate it outweighs that of the guidance from the CDC and WHO, you’ve crossed the line.”

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In Alabama, Bay Medical Family Practice owner Lynn Yonge, MD has channeled his experience preparing for and treating COVID-19 patients, and – along with six of his nine employees – dealing with and recovering from the virus into a series of pieces for a collaborative, pop-up art exhibit outside of the area’s temporarily closed arts center.


Sponsor Updates

  • PerfectServe congratulates customer Prisma Health on FDA approval of its VESper ventilator expansion device.
  • The local business paper profiles the rapid uptake in adoption of the Healow telemedicine app from EClinicalWorks.

Blog Posts


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News 4/22/20

April 22, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

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CMS, ONC, and the HHS Office of the Inspector General announce they will, to varying degrees, delay enforcing compliance with final interoperability rules so that healthcare stakeholders can focus on COVID-19-related operations.

Most relevant to this audience may be ONC’s new timeframes for software developers.


HIStalk Practice Musings

I haven’t had any personal experience with COVID-19, aside from the economic impact on various family members. I have, however, seen its indirect effects – both positive and negative on local, non-COVID patients: A friend has been at her wits’ end trying to find care for her 85 year-old father in-law as he recovers from several strokes. She’s told me his regular doctors have refused to see him because they are apparently no longer seeing patients above the age of 65. She was so relieved to find a home health agency that offers in-person and virtual visits to fill in his care gaps for the time being. On the flip side, my neighbor’s emergency gall bladder removal earlier this week probably went more smoothly than in non-Covid times of care. He didn’t wait long in the emergency room and his surgery, thankfully routine, happened not long after he was admitted. His wife was not thrilled that she couldn’t visit him, though. Given that the hospital he went to is in one of the top five counties for COVID cases, I hope to eventually ask him about any noticeable changes to its operating procedures/standards of care.

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Speaking of counties, I’ve found the daily COVID-19 statistics released by my state’s department of public health invaluable in helping me understand how the virus is impacting my community. I’ve been visiting its COVID-19 landing page daily for about a month now, and it’s been interesting to see how reporting of the data has changed as cases and testing have increased. They now seem to be entering a leveling-off phase, which is encouraging, though I’m not enough of a data-whisperer to infer that we’ve definitely flattened the curve. Thankfully, data is non-partisan.


Webinars

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers CEO James Hunt, Jr. says recent federal grants will keep the state’s 52 centers going for another six weeks, and that billions of dollars will be needed to keep programs stable over the next three to six months. Thirty-two centers are preparing to launch widespread COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts, despite a shortage of PPE.


Announcements and Implementations

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Amwell announces GA of white-label telemedicine capabilities for physician practices.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics will offer member organizations access to Updox’s telemedicine software and services.


Government and Politics

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The State of Georgia expands a COVID-19 screening app developed by August University Health System to residents statewide. Those who qualify can make testing appointments with the department of public health through the app. Patients who test positive will then be asked to self-report symptoms and whereabouts through a portal developed by Google and MTX Group. Officials say data from the portal will be essential to boots-on-the-ground contact tracing efforts. 


Research and Innovation

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An informal survey of 2,000 physicians conducted during a call-in Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Town Hall finds that:

  • Twenty-four percent have lost between 75% and 100% of their revenue since the pandemic began.
  • Thirty-six percent have lost between 50% and 75% of their revenue.
  • Twenty-three percent have lost between 25% and 50% of their revenue.
  • Forty-one percent need more data on testing and testing options.
  • Nearly 75% began using telemedicine for the first time as of March 1.

Other

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Value-based care practice management company Primary PartnerCare procures 5,000 N95 masks for the 100 independent physicians within its New York-based network. Sixty percent of its practices are still operating. A PCP study conducted in mid-April found that just under 50% of surveyed practices have enough patient volume and cash on hand to stay open through mid-May.

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In Texas, Bent Tree Family Physicians President and CEO Guy Culpepper, MD expresses his frustration with the state of independent practice during COVID-19, the effects of which have forced him to furlough his entire staff and apply for a small business loan:

We believed that we would be receiving a loan from the government CARES program, so we kept working as hard as ever, actually much harder. Our phone calls overflowed with non-billable patient questions and problems. And we returned calls 24 hours a day. We preventing hundreds of people from going to the ER. We flattened the curve.

We did everything we thought we were supposed to do. We applied for a loan properly and on time at our long time bank, BB&T. But the $350 Billion dollars of small business loans went too quickly to other businesses, like Ruths Chris and Potbelly’s. We didn’t get a loan.

I don’t know why America’s essential workers, like BTFP, were not treated as essential loan recipients. I guess I trusted the system too much.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 4/20/20

April 20, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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Value-based practice management company Aledade raises $64 million in a Series C round of funding led by OMERS Growth Equity. Launched in 2014 by former ONC leader Farzad Mostashari, MD (whom, in my opinion, is a voice of sound public health reasoning right now, along with former FDA head Scott Gottlieb, MD), the company’s clients now include 550 independent practices in nearly 30 states. Aledade will use the financing to help it expand in California. The California Medical Association also participated in the round.

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The company made news several days ago for supplying 500 practices enrolled in its ACO programs with PPE including 282,000 surgical masks, 119,000 KN95 respirators, 348,000 medical gloves, 101,000 disposable gowns, 29,000 face shields, and 4,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.


Webinars

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.”Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


People

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Debra Stall (Pennington Group) joins Therapy Brands as head of RCM and clearinghouse.

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Telemedicine company Wheel names Chris Norris (Darby Smart) CTO and Chris Donus (Lyft) CFO.


Announcements and Implementations

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Marshfield Clinic (WI) implements Ikonopedia’s cloud-based breast reporting software across its eight imaging centers and three mobile mammography units.

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MD Revolution integrates Electronic Caregiver’s Pro Health remote patient monitoring software with its RevUp digital care management technology.

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National clinic chain Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy will implement telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and outcomes tracking software from PhysiTrack through a custom-built app dubbed Ivy Rehab Connect.


Government and Politics

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Just three days after opening the application window, the FCC awards over $3 million to six healthcare organizations including Hudson River HealthCare in New York and Neighborhood Health Care in Cleveland. Both organizations will use the financing to purchase telemedicine, connected devices, and remote patient monitoring for low-income patients with chronic conditions.

In Texas, the Austin Public Health department launches an online portal enabling residents to complete online COVID-19 testing assessments, data from which will help health officials better gauge testing demand and follow up with high-risk patients. The portal will also offer testing referrals, follow-up results, and secure messaging. The department hopes to be able to test up to 2,000 people per week at its drive-thru sites.


Other

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This article looks at the unexpectedly quick deployment of telemedicine services across Hudson Headwaters’ 19 community clinics in upstate New York. What had been still in the planning stages was quickly implemented through Zoom in just a few weeks, according to CMIO Kevin Gallagher, MD who joined the organization on March 2. Since launching the service, it has conducted 2,379 audio visits and 2,081 video visits.

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Codementor develops Code Against COVID-19, a website that matches software developers with COVID-19 related software projects.


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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News 4/15/20

April 15, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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An MGMA survey of 724 practices conducted earlier this month finds that patient volumes have declined an average of 66%, leading to a 55% decline in reimbursements. Nearly a quarter have had to permanently lay staff off, while 44% percent have had to furlough workers. Of those that haven’t had to make any employment cuts, most have said they’ll consider doing so within the next 30 days.


Webinars

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.”Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally. 

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Announcements and Implementations

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MerlinWave adds AxiaMed’s patient payment technology to its MWTherapy software for physical therapy practices.

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Titan Health Management Solutions will outsource some of its RCM services to MTBC’s new accounts receivables and back-office management service.

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Wildflower Health announces GA of free virtual visit and remote patient monitoring tools for obstetrics practices during the pandemic.

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Mental Health Center of Denver implements CareSignal’s COVID-19 Companion text messaging app.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Several clinics and medical groups in Oregon are banding together to ask for state and federal financial assistance as they struggle to keep their doors open. True to MGMA’s aforementioned stats, their patient volumes have dropped 68% and have forced them to contemplate closing within the next 60 to 90 days if operations don’t return to some semblance of normal. All have taken steps to reduce expenses, including reducing pay, cutting hours and furloughing staff. Funding received from the CARES Act won’t stretch beyond a day or two, with most receiving the equivalent of less than a day’s revenue. 


Other

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Steve Short, DO documents his time volunteering at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The pulmonary critical dare specialist had originally intended to spend one week away from his job at Inspire ENT & Pulmonology in Manhattan, KS, but was convinced by hospital administrators to extend his stay for another four to six weeks. “Every floor is basically an intensive care unit,” he says. “It is just unbelievable how many sick people there are, and 100 ventilators that are going, and there’s nobody getting off them, everyone is dying, and it’s so sad.”

The Maryland State Medical Society will offer independent member practices with five or fewer physicians free access for a year to DrFirst’s telemedicine software.


Sponsor Updates

  • Use of the EClinicalWorks Healow telemedicine app exceeds 1.5 million daily minutes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

News 4/13/20

April 13, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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The FCC begins accepting applications for its $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which will help eligible providers purchase infrastructure, services, and devices needed to offer telemedicine during the pandemic.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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I came across this tweet and thought I would share, should anyone be looking for a new physician author to read. The book, Weiner’s second, came out last week.

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Dr. Jayne’s mention last week of the British TV series “Poldark” finally get me to jump (rather belatedly) on the bandwagon. I had the opportunity to watch several episodes of the first season over the holiday weekend and I’m officially hooked. I’m looking forward to reading the series of books on which the 2015-2019 Masterpiece production was based. 


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

I’m going on record as saying 2020 will be known as the year that telemedicine went mainstream. Thus, I’m getting rid of the “Telemedicine” section and organizing virtual care-related news items according to HIStalk Practice’s more traditional categories.


Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.”Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally. 

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Just a little over a year after breaking away from Atrium Health-owned Mecklenburg Medical Group in North Carolina to form their own independent practice, leaders at Tryon Medical Partners lay off 75 employees in response to a pandemic-induced decline in patient visits.

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Healthcare technology and management company Altais acquires Brown & Toland Physicians, a network of 2,700 independent physicians in the San Francisco Bay area. B&TP will join the clinical services subsidiary of Altais, and implement its practice management software.


People

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Behavioral healthcare technology company AptiHealth names Dan Pickett (Hudson River Capital Holdings) president and CEO, and Kori-Ann Taylor (32 Mile Media) CMO; and promotes co-founder Alex Marsal to chief clinical and science officer.


Announcements and Implementations

MTI Physical Therapy in Seattle implements virtual visit capabilities from MedBridge.


Government and Politics

This Health Affairs article offers a list of financial resources for struggling community health centers.

Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse will equip 81 sites across the state with telemedicine-enabled tablets that patients can use to access mental health services on site or from home.


Other

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In Kentucky, several of Kroger’s Little Clinic locations will begin offering free drive-thru testing for COVID-19. The grocery chain will cover the costs of testing, and has promised a 48-hour turnaround time through lab partner Gravity Diagnostics. Customers can make an appointment for testing through a new online portal, which also offers chatbot-based virus screening. Results will be added to the clinic’s EHR, which I believe is Epic.

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Google adds telemedicine services and pricing to search and map results associated with brick-and-mortar physician listings.

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Sports Illustrated profiles several NFL team physicians who’ve transitioned from examining draft picks to caring for patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The NFL Physicians Society suspended all football-related medical visits last month.

The AMA puts together a list of resources, including telemedicine opportunities, for physicians interested in volunteering their services for COVID-19 care.


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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