Stories from Texas Medicine, July 2014

Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants in Texas - 06/26/2018

Providing health care to the 1.6 million undocumented immigrants in Texas is an existing challenge. Despite continued growth of this vulnerable population, legislation between 1986 and 2013 has made it more difficult for states to provide adequate and cost-effective care. As this population ages and develops chronic illnesses, Texas physicians, health care administrators, and legislators will be facing a major challenge.

The More Your Patients Know - 06/02/2016

In February, the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency released its strategic plan to guide the institute's activities for the next five years, including an initiative to improve health literacy in the state. Many physicians already are taking steps to improve health literacy among their patients. TMA is helping doctors promote health literacy by participating in the national Walk With a Doc program, which promotes patient-physician communication and healthy lifestyles, and the Choosing Wisely campaign, which allows physicians to play a key role in health care literacy by not ordering and recommending tests or treatments that cost a lot of money that have not proven to be effective.

Lifting the Veil - 05/13/2016

As governments and employers look for ways to curb growing health care costs, and as patients bear a higher share of their medical bills, policymakers in Texas and beyond increasingly target physicians in their efforts to unveil health care prices. They couch such "price transparency" as a way to help patients make more informed health care decisions. But Texas Medical Association's Board of Trustees member Gary W. Floyd, MD, of Fort Worth, cautions that for a complex health care payment system, coupled with individual patients' complex needs, coming up with a so-called "sticker price" is not as simple as it seems.

Digital Doctor - 05/13/2016

As telemedicine gains momentum, so does policy interest at the state and federal levels. A new Federation of State Medical Boards model policy aims to create a roadmap for the safe and appropriate practice of telemedicine. But a provision that has sparked debate says a telephone call or online visit alone won't suffice for newly established patient relationships.

A Necessary Pain - 05/13/2016

In October 2013, the Texas Department of Public Safety officially began allowing physicians to electronically prescribe schedule II controlled substances. The practice of electronic prescription of controlled substances (EPCS) for schedule II drugs became more commonplace in March 2014, after DPS completed a small pilot program to test the accuracy of reporting schedule II drugs to the Texas Prescription Program. Sending prescription requests to a pharmacy through an electronic vendor helps reduce the risk of prescription fraud.