The Pulse is the bi-weekly e-newsletter from The Physician Alliance, one of Michigan's largest physician organizations serving more than 2,200 primary care and specialty physicians.
The Pulse of The Physician Alliance
Friday, March 2, 2018
Decrease use of imaging for low back pain

The Physician Alliance is committed to helping provide appropriate use of healthcare services and tests to improve patient care, while also working to lower costs. Through participation in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's Resource Stewardship Initiative, TPA works with practices to decrease over-utilization of medical services. Decreasing the use of imaging for low back pain within the first four weeks of symptoms is one of the focus areas selected by TPA through the Resource Stewardship Initiative.
Low back pain is one of the top 10 reasons someone visits their doctor. Keep in mind that a doctor's recommendation is a major contributing factor to treating patients with conservative treatments and in assuring appropriate indications for imaging studies. The American College of Physicians guidelines for low back pain recommend imaging only for patients who have severe progressive neurologic deficits or signs/symptoms that suggest a serious underlying condition. TPA offers suggestions for talking to patients experiencing low back pain ( click here).

The Physician Alliance also created education materials to help initiate conversations with patients to manage low back pain without imaging. A poster lists facts about imaging and alternative treatment options, and a ' non-prescription' for low back treatment options can help patients use non-imaging alternatives. These, and other patient education materials, are available on TPA's website.

  Choosing Wisely, a national healthcare campaign to promote important healthcare conversations between physicians and patients, is also a great source of information for this topic and others.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month offers a perfect opportunity to talk to patients about colorectal cancer screening. Colorectal cancer remains the nation's second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women. It is estimated that there will be 4,510 cases of colorectal cancer in Michigan in 2018, with an estimated 1,670 people dying from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Early detection is key to discovering cancer before a person experiences any signs or symptoms. Regular screenings save lives by identifying cancers when they are most curable
and treatment is most likely to be successful. Physicians can help by initiating conversations with patients on the importance of screenings.

The Physician Alliance created a patient education poster related to colorectal cancer screening. To download the poster, click here or complete the online order form to have copies mailed from TPA.

The Michigan Cancer Consortium offers helpful resources, including social media templates and resources for testing and uninsured patients.
Are you safely prescribing medications?
The Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) helps physicians track controlled substance prescriptions (scheduled 2-5 drugs). MAPS is an online tool used by physicians/prescribers and dispensers to determine if patients are already receiving controlled substances from other providers. The system works to prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion at the prescriber, pharmacy and patient levels.

The online system is available 24/7 to run prescription reports. All physicians should be registered with MAPS. Click here to login or create an account. Some helpful tips for registering with MAPS are available here.

Last fall, Michigan legislators passed several laws related to new requirements intended to enhance controlled substance prescribing protocols and combat the opioid epidemic. A summary of these mandates can be found here.  
News you can use

Anthem Calls On Eye Surgeons To Monitor Anesthesia During Cataract Surgery, Kaiser Health News
Pediatricians Call For Universal Depression Screening For Teens, NPR
New genetic link reveals some ovarian cancer passed down by fathers, CNN
These 10 ERs Sharply Reduced Opioid Use And Still Eased Pain, NPR
Hospitals cut costs as revenue squeezed, Crain's Detroit
Scientists work to find "holy grail" vaccine, CBS News
Hospitals, health plans posted strong margins for 2016-17, but future could be rougher, Crain's
Huntington Insurance offers cyber liability insurance to help protect practices from data breaches.

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