A bi-weekly newsletter from your physician organization
Friday, March 27, 2020
Key COVID-19 resources
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS):
**Sign up for COVID-19 updates from MDHHS here
 
24-hour testing referral telephone line (888-277-9894) - exclusive for Michigan clinicians
 
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):
**Sign up for COVID-19 updates from CDC here
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and resources
  • CDC developed posters, flyers and more to help practices during COVID-19. Click here to view 10 things to do to get your clinic ready and click here for additional patient materials (flyers for doors, exam rooms, etc.)

*Information as of 3/26/2020.
CMS announces updates to telehealth and more
In an effort to assist clinicians in providing the best patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has been making updates to requirements for telehealth, virtual communications and remote patient monitoring of beneficiaries. Some changes include paying telehealth visits at the same rate as an in-office visit and easing restrictions on non-HIPAA compliant devices. Many of these changes are trying to keep the highest at-risk population at home. Here is a summary:

Medicare coverage and payment of virtual services : Healthcare providers including physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers for telehealth visits involving evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings to patients in their homes or from any other originating site. These visits will be paid at the same rate as an in-office visit.

Click here for more details on Medicare telehealth frequently asked questions (March 17, 2020).

Medicare coverage and payment related to COVID-19 : This fact sheet covers a multitude of care, including diagnostic tests, vaccines and telehealth updates. Doctors and billing practitioners may bill for virtual check-in services furnished through several communication technology modalities, such as telephone (HCPCS code G2012) or captured video or image (HCPCS code G2010).

Discretion for telehealth remote communications during COVID-19 emergency : The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released updated rules stating no penalties for “covered entity” healthcare providers who utilize a telehealth platform or any other remote communication technology that is not fully HIPAA compliant and with which the provider does not have a Business Association Agreement in place. Additional updates to the HIPAA waiver can be found here .

For more details and updates, visit CMS's coronavirus emergency website .
Education program updates
The Chronic Care Management training scheduled for April 21 has been canceled .

TPA quality webinars offer tips and updates for quality metrics, Provider Delivered Care Management program, Wellcentive and ADT. Upcoming dates include:

Tuesday, April 14, 12-1pm - Register
Tuesday, May 12, 12-1pm - Register
Tuesday, June 9, 12-1pm - Register
CMS updates deadlines/requirements for quality programs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs. This action is in response to millions of healthcare providers focusing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Updates to the reporting and data submission requirements for the Quality Payment Program and other programs can be found on the CMS website .
Cyber attacks on rise during coronavirus
Healthcare providers continue to be prime targets for cyber-criminals who focus on practices' IT systems. Providers store information hackers prize, including usernames, passwords, social security numbers, and financial information. It shouldn’t be a surprise that hackers have jumped at the opportunity to use the COVID-19 pandemic to try to hack into technology systems. Cyber-criminals are using this crisis to attempt to catch weary staff who would otherwise be very careful about accessing unknown information off guard.
 
Hackers are sending emails that appear to provide COVID-19 information, such as outbreak maps or access to needed resources and supplies, to encourage doctors and their staff to click on links in the email. Clicking on a link can lead to downloading of malware/ransomware to infiltrate an IT system. Malware can cause significant disruption of patient care and business operations. A practice’s system could be shut down entirely or information accessed as the malware operates on a system without staff’s knowledge. 
 
It’s important to remind all physicians and staff to be extra cautious with any unknown emails – whether the email looks legitimate or not. Many employees are nervously looking for new or updated information about the virus. These emails look very legitimate and may appear to be from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) or a hospital or medical association. Don’t trust anything you are not sure about.
 
TIPS:
  • Look closely at the “From” email address
  • Never click on links from unknown sources. If you are not sure, DO NOT CLICK ON IT.
  • Consider the security of open Wi-Fi systems of employees working from home, which might open up security holes.
 
Source: Rickard & Associates is an Affiliate Partner, providing legal expertise on a variety of business issues. Contact Lori-Ann Rickard at (586) 498-0600 for information and assistance.
Free mental health services for medical providers
The coronavirus pandemic is causing worldwide anxiety and worry. Front line health care providers are particularly impacted as they focus on caring for others. Here are some tips for maintaining mental health:
 
  • Start each shift with a mindfulness activity, such as:
  • Choose 1 of the 5 senses and focus on all of the sensory input from that sense, then move on to another.
  • Use something tangible for the 5 senses (e.g., carry a small piece of soft cloth to rub between your fingers, keep peppermints or hard candy to taste).
  • Stay in the moment. Focus your energy on each patient you are working with, then move onto the next. Address what is happening in the actual moment rather than trying to predict what will happen next.
  • Practice focused, paced breaths during a minute of downtime (using the bathroom, washing hands, etc.). Get outside and breathe fresh air, even if only for a minute. 
  • Remember your self-care. Eat healthy, sleep when possible, and exercise as you can. When possible, do things that have historically helped you manage stress and avoid things that increase stress (i.e., social media, too much news). It is OK to not answer texts or calls from people in your personal life when you need to rest and recharge. 
  • Teach others how to manage stress. With family members and coworkers, refrain from conversations that are negative and lack reasonable hope. 
  • Keep parts of your routine that can stay the same (e.g., exercise schedules; eating habits) and shake some things up (e.g., drive a different route to work; mix up your clothes/jewelry; listen to different music) to help reinforce a sense of control. 
  • Focus on what you can control. Write something that is making you feel worried on an index card. Underneath the worry, list things you can do. Focus only on those things that are exclusively within YOUR CONTROL and remind yourself to let go of anything not within your control. We can’t always control what is happening (or all aspects of it), but we can control our responses to what’s happening.
  • Get professional help from a licensed mental health provider if you need it. It is OK to not be OK.

McCaskill Family Services is offering medical providers a free mental health session with a licensed psychologist (via telehealth) . To schedule a telehealth appointment, contact (734) 416-9098 or office@mccaskillfamilyservices.com
The latest healthcare news
Ways you can save
Featured Affiliate Partner: MEDICAL DEBT COLLECTION - Transworld Systems offers past due account and debt collection services to TPA members at exclusive pricing. TSI will provide members new automated solutions to help practices recover past due patient accounts and reduce slow pay concerns.

Learn more about this partner.