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, February 16, 2018
Create a plan for closing gaps in care
Did you know that closing your patient care gaps can help your practice qualify for higher revenues? A better managed patient population leads to closing gaps in care which can lead to physician practices being eligible for more incentive dollars from payer sources.
 Creating processes to address and prevent gaps can lead to improvement in quality scores, revenue and overall patient health.

Gaps in care reports can be generated through electronic medical records and TPA's disease registry, Wellcentive, to alert and inform practices about missing quality indicators in their patient populations. These r eports can indicate which patients are missing important screenings to help detect potentially life-threatening illnesses. Practices can begin by selecting specific conditions to focus on for a patient outreach plan, which might include:
  • Sending letters to patients listing needed screenings/tests
  • Follow up calls to patients
  • Utilizing patient portals
  • Text messaging (reminder alerts) 
In an effort to help practices work on closing gaps, The Physician Alliance will send monthly electronic communication that includes patient letter templates, additional tips for identifying and closing gaps, and monthly measure targets for use by practices. TPA also developed patient education materials on a variety of quality measures for display in exam rooms and distribution to patients. Visit the website to view these. Your practice resource team member is also a great resource for questions and information. 
Program protects patients from utility shutoffs

Patients suffering from medical conditions requiring home medical equipment or a life support system may find relief from worrying about utility shutoff, thanks to a new rule implemented last December by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The Medical Certification Form was recently approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission to justify restoring service or putting a hold on disconnecting service for patients who reply on service for medical conditions. The form must be completed by a physician or public health care official, verifying a patient's medical condition.

Forms are available on utility companies' website. A sample form can be viewed here.
Decrease use of antibiotics, even in flu season

The Physician Alliance participates in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's Resource Stewardship Initiative, which seeks to decrease over-utilization of medical services. Decreasing antibiotic use in adults with bronchitis is a key focus area for TPA (this is also a HEDIS measure).

Acute bronchitis is the most common diagnosis in these patients and accounts for more than 10 percent of ambulatory care visits in the United States. Viruses are responsible for more than 90 percent of acute bronchitis infections but 70 percent of these patients receive unnecessary prescription for antibiotics, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

With the flu season in a critical stage this year, it's important for physicians to continue to determine if an antibiotic is necessary, even if a patient requests one. Overuse of antibiotics can cause resistance to infections and unnecessary risks to patients. Antibiotic resistant bacteria causes at least 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The Physician Alliance created education materials to help initiate conversations with patients regarding the use of antibiotics. A poster lists facts about antibiotic use, and a ' non-prescription' for viral infections offer alternative treatment options. 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.
News you can use

American health care has reached its tipping point, Modern Healthcare
Drug spend to jump 7.3% for health systems in 2018, Becker Hospital Review
After approving Medicaid work requirements, Trump's HHS aims for lifetime coverage limits, McClatchy DC Bureau
Upper Peninsula child dies of flu - first pediatric death in Michigan this season, Crain's Detroit
Doctors Learn How To Talk To Patients About Dying, Kaiser Health News
Medical 3-D printing is 'future of surgery', Crain's Detroit
Nurse Calls Cops After New Mom Seeks Help For Depression. Right Call?, Kaiser Health News
Ferlito Construction provides expert design and construction services to TPA members, with free interior design service and 5 percent off construction costs. 

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