Too Many Babies by C-Section?

June 5, 2014 

 TMA’s Texas Medicine Magazine’s June Issue: C-Section Rates, Congress Misses Medicare Payment Fix, New Care Quality Tools,
Electronic Medical Record Bugs, Medicare Data Releases

 Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Texas Medicine magazine, the association’s official publication now completely accessible to reporters, covers these important topics this month:

A Lost Art: ACOG Aims to Cut Cesarean Rates

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine released new recommendations suggesting women with low-risk pregnancies spend more time in labor, thus avoiding unnecessary Cesarean sections. The groups hope fewer women will deliver their first babies surgically. Their concern? Whether the steep jump in Cesarean birth rates – up 60 percent from 1996 to 2011 – is really better for the mother and baby.

Medicare Data Go Public: What You Need to Know

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released extensive information about the payments it made to physicians and other providers of Part B Medicare services. What do the data mean? Are out-of-pocket costs like overhead explained in the numbers? What about expensive prescription medicines physicians order on patients’ behalf? What should physicians do about this information disclosure?

 Out in the Open: Medicare Publishes Quality Data

Medicare recently began to report care quality measures on Physician Compare, its provider rating website. The site includes data on five quality measures mainly for group practices of 100 or more, and will add more measures and eventually make such data public for all Medicare physicians. What goes into the quality measures? Will they provide meaningful information for patients, or confuse them? TMA’s Council on Health Care Quality weighs in, as TMA and the American Medical Association advocate accuracy and reasonable means for physicians to correct errors.

Playing It SAFER: EHR Guides Help Frontline Physicians

Now that more physician practices are using electronic health records (EHRs) to improve accuracy and efficiency in patient care, new software glitches are surfacing. For example some EHRs confuse patients with similar names in the database. So in January, government agencies released tools like “SAFER” for physicians and health care organizations to use EHRs more safely. Will this help? What other guides exist for physicians? The chair of TMA’s Council on Practice Management Services shares examples of some of the technology’s problems and promises. 

Hard Evidence: TMA Collaborates With AHRQ on Evidence-Based Decision-making Tools

Patients can play an important role in the quality of their care, and a new tool aims to help. So TMA’s Board of Trustees and Council on Health Care Quality endorsed the tool, the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research’s (AHRQ’s) Effective Health Care Program. AHRQ’s program provides physicians and patients with evidence-based research — a key reason for TMA’s endorsement — on treatment options for a variety of health conditions. AHRQ culls research on the latest treatments and summarizes that info for physicians. The agency also provides patient-friendly materials doctors can share with patients to increase involvement in their own care.

Medicare Meltdown: Another Lost Opportunity

So close, yet so far: Congress recently progressed right to the brink of overhauling the Medicare physician payment system, the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula … but politics intervened and Congress failed once again to revamp the system. Instead, they stuck doctors with the 17th temporary payment patch since the SGR has been in place. Now the SGR threatens to cut physicians’ payments for caring for Medicare patients — seniors and people with disabilities — by 24 percent. Congress had a bipartisan solution: Members on both sides of the aisle agreed the SGR is flawed and causes patients to struggle to find physicians’ care, and creates uncertainty for doctors. What went wrong? What’s next? What might a permanent fix (or lack thereof) mean for patients’ access to care?

Pleaseclick here to start reading. 

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
Pam Udall

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
Brent Annear


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