COVID-19’s appearance in March 2020 triggered rapid changes for physician offices throughout Texas. For Sugar Land family physician Troy Fiesinger, MD, the full impact of those changes became clear almost a year later in February 2021 when unusually low temperatures froze the state.The winter weather knocked out power and paralyzed most of Texas for about a week – an event that would have previously shut down Dr. Fiesinger’s clinic. But after nearly a year of COVID-19, the staff seamlessly switched to working from home.
“When the freeze hit, it was, ‘[Can] everyone can go virtual?’ Good. Without batting an eye, we just did it,” he said.
Adopting telemedicine turned out to be one of the biggest pandemic-inspired adjustments for most practices.
As of May 1, hospitals must electronically share their admit, discharge, and/or transfer (ADT) notices with the patient’s established primary care physician, group, or other practitioner identified by the patient. The requirement, a condition of participation under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Interoperability and Patient Access final rule, applies to all patients who receive emergency department (ED) or inpatient services, including at psychiatric hospitals.
As you’re probably already aware, all physicians are required to electronically prescribe controlled substances under state and federal laws that took effect Jan. 1.
If you’re still unclear about the law, the waivers, and the exceptions, the Texas Medical Association has created a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) document that can help you understand the requirements.
If you’re in a Qualifying Alternative Payment Model (APM) in Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP), or you’re considering making the jump, take note: The thresholds for participating this year are now the same as in 2020 thanks to recent federal law.
Internet scammers are trying to cash in on the widespread anxiety over COVID-19, and awareness is the best defense, according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Likewise, the Texas Attorney General's Office has issued a warning about outbreak-related scams.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) data entry is a part of the job, but for most physicians it’s a chore. Not only does it take time away from your patients, it adds to the hours you spend in the office (or to the work hours you spend at home). Fortunately, many physicians have found ways to save time doing data entry.
As COVID-19 cases rise across the state, physicians have been asking the Texas Medical Association about getting started with telemedicine.
That’s why TMA staff has added new tools and information to the TMA telemedicine resource center.
The TMA EHR Vendor Comparison Tool provides TMA member physicians access to an assessment of EHR products that have a solid Texas market base. It gives physicians a view of company information, product functionality, pricing, and interoperability capabilities when comparing EHR systems.
In the evolving world of health information technology, some vendors that store and transmit health information – such as the tech minds behind certain mobile apps – are getting their hands on patient data without any HIPAA leash to rein in their use of it.
Now, organized medicine is doing its part to preserve patients’ privacy when their health information finds its way outside of HIPAA-covered organizations.
The federal requirements have not changed, but starting Jan. 1, breach notification requirements became even more stringent for Texas physicians or medical entities. The Texas Legislature dropped the threshold for breach reporting from 500 patients to 250. House Bill 4390 also requires medical entities to report breaches to the Texas attorney general’s office within 60 days of the breach.
Ideally, all members of a health care team –physicians, hospitals, labs – should be able to use HIT and EHRs to share patient information through a secure network, a process called interoperability.
Health Information Exchange (HIE) can be accomplished in different ways, and the needs and requirements vary by practice.
the Texas Medical Association pushed state lawmakers this year for a special appropriation to the Texas Board of Pharmacy for funds to allow Appriss Health, the state’s PMP vendor, to integrate with electronic health record (EHR) systems and health information exchanges (HIEs). This integration allows physicians to access PMP data within their EHR when creating a prescription – at no cost to the physician.
The Security Risk Assessment Tool by the ONC is a free tool designed to help practices with one to 10 physicians identify their risks and vulnerabilities with electronic protected health information (ePHI) and then implement appropriate security measures.
Enroll in Proactive LifeLock® Identity Theft Protection You have a home security system that alerts you if someone tries to rob your house. To be protected, you need an alarm system for your identity. compliance.
It probably goes without saying that technology is an integral part of modern health care.
But how can you be sure you’re getting the best deal from your technology vendor?
You can’t be absolutely sure of course, but a few modifications to your vendor contract can help you avoid much of the risk associated with buying technology.
Coker Group offers TMA physician members free technology contract review services.
Get discounts on thousands of electronics and accessories. Enroll at www.Dell.com/mpp/texmedAdvantage.
TMA works diligently to give you the tools you need to tackle the challenges of technology. Whether you need help selecting an electronic health record (EHR) or understanding MACRA or the EHR incentive program, TMA has the resources.
Here are the latest comment letters and articles by TMA regarding health information technology:
TMA Comment Letter to the ONC Re: USCDI v2 (April 15, 2021)
TMA Letter to the FCC Re: COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Evaluation Metrics (Jan. 14, 2021)
TMA Comment Letter to CMS on Payer APIs and Medicaid CHIP Prior Authorization Proposed Rule (Jan. 4, 2021) Read the TMT article.
TMA Comment Letter to CMS Re: Medicare Program; CY 2021 Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Changes to Part B Payment Policies of Proposed Rulemaking (Oct. 5, 2020)
TMA’s Comment Letter on the CMS Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) Request for Information (Sept. 25, 2020)
TMA Comment Letter to the DEA Re: Interim Final Rule on E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) (June 22, 2020)
TMA Comment Letter to the OIG Re: Anti Kickback Statute (Dec. 31, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter to CMS Re: Stark Law (Dec. 31, 2019)
AMA House Rejects MIPS Plan (Texas Medicine Today, Nov. 20, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter on 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and MACRA Quality Payment Program (QPP) Proposed Rule (Sept. 27, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter to CMS on Secure Electronic Prior Authorization for Medicare Part D (Aug. 16, 2019)
TMA Comments to ONC on TEFCA Draft Two (June 17, 2019)
Texans Invite AMA to Join Crusade to Fix QPP (Texas Medicine Today, June 5, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter to ONC on Information Blocking (June 3, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter to CMS on Interoperability and Patient Access (June 3, 2019)
Sign Letter Urging Congress to Address EHR Usability
TMA Comment Letter to ONC Re: Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden with EHRs (Jan. 28, 2019)
TMA Comment Letter to ONC Re: the EHR Reporting Program Request for Information (Oct. 17, 2018)
TMA Comment Letter on 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and QPP Proposed Rule (Sept. 10, 2018)
TMA Comments on Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems Rule (June 25, 2018)
TMA Comment Letter to ONC Re: Draft Trusted Exchange Framework (Feb. 20, 2018)
TMA Wins MIPS Exemption for Many Harvey-Affected Practices (Action, Dec. 15, 2017)
TMA Comments on 2018 MACRA Program (Aug. 21, 2017)
TMA Letter to CMS Re: Proposed Rules On the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs that are Part of the Hospital Inpatient and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment Systems (June 13, 2017)
TMA Outlines EHR Concerns for House Chair (Action, Mar. 1, 2017)
TMA Letter to House Chair, Kevin Brady Re: Health Information Exchange (Feb. 15, 2017)
TMA, AMA Letter Asking CMS to Defer Implementation of the 2015 Edition of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) (Feb. 27, 2017)
Make a New Plan, Stan: Physicians Offer 50 Ways to Better MACRA (News release, June 27, 2016)
Letter from Matt Murray, MD, Re: TMA Advocacy on the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015 - 2020
Learn More About Advocacy Efforts
2014 EHR Survey Flyer
2014 TMA HIT Survey Report
2012 TMA HIT Survey Report
2012 TMA HIT Survey - Short Summary
2009 EHR Survey - Short Summary
2009 TMA Electronic Health Records Survey Results
Got Health IT questions? Contact the HIT Helpline.
Looking for resources to promote health equity? TMA’s Social Determinants of Health Resource Center provides a wealth of information for physicians seeking to learn more about social factors that drive health outcomes. The resource center includes links to educational material, screening tools, care management resources and more.
View the Resource Center
Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Texas Medical Association Insurance Trust, dozens of CME courses in the TMA Education Center are now FREE for members. Find a wide variety of health information technology courses today.
Get CME Now