Magazine Story

Staying the Course: Medicine Enters an Unprecedented Session at the Texas Legislature - 01/16/2021

The way the Texas Legislature conducts business during the 2021 session may look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Texas Medical Association’s commitment to improving health care remains the same. Some of those goals are up against deep cuts to state agency budgets. At the same time, however, the pandemic has created opportunities for medicine to bend lawmakers’ ear on some of its longstanding goals, including advancing access to care, vaccines, health coverage, and telemedicine.


Talk to Patients About: What Is ImmTrac2? - 01/14/2021

ImmTrac2, Texas’ revised immunization registry, is designed to help people keep their vaccine records in order. Texas residents who sign up can have their immunization records stored for free, allowing physicians, schools, and other authorized people to see which shots a person has received and which ones they’ve missed.


Buried in Paperwork - 01/14/2021

The Texas Medical Association reached a landmark agreement with advanced practice nurses and physician assistants on legislation to improve patients' access to care through an improved delegated model for team-based health care. The bill helps establish a more flexible and collaborative practice model that improves on current site-based restrictions.


Opening Act: Patients Given Broad Access to Their EHRs - 01/06/2021

Starting April 5, physicians must be ready to electronically share with patients more of the information generated during office visits. This change comes thanks to “information blocking” rules that are part of the 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress in 2016 and put into regulation in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).


Texas Medicine Magazine - 01/05/2021

Texas Medicine Magazine


Texas Medicine Back Issues - 01/05/2021

Back Issues


Troubling Trend: Texas’ 2018 QPP Data Contains More Bad Signs - 01/05/2021

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to churn out glowing data annually on its Quality Payment Program (QPP), a full picture of the program’s impact eludes the agency’s reporting. According to the Texas Medical Association’s analysis of state-level data in the 2018 QPP Experience Report, it’s clear that small practices continue to feel most of the program’s punitive pressures.


The Handbook of Texas Medicine - 01/05/2021

As a Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) special project, the Handbook of Texas Medicine will add 400 new entries featuring a broad array of topics, as well as revise several hundred existing entries. New Handbook entries will promote a greater understanding of the past while providing valuable context for present-day issues and crises. Upon completion, the Handbook of Texas Medicine will become the first state-based online medical encyclopedia in the U.S. TSHA is honored to collaborate in this endeavor with two venerable institutions: the Texas Medical Association and The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).


Talk to Patients About: Flu Shot Myths - 01/05/2021

It’s no secret that many patients don’t take the annual vaccine for influenza as seriously as their physicians would like. During the 2019-20 flu season, just over half of Americans 6 months or older – 51.8% – got their flu shots, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That was up 2.6% from the previous season.


The Customer Is Always Right? Patient-Reported outcome Measures Have Fans and Detractors - 01/05/2021

For too long, some doctors say measures of a physician’s quality of care have been about process: the average length of a patient stay, for example, or a patient’s readmission rate. The bottom line is results, and that’s why a shift to patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures is necessary. However, even proponents of PRO measures note that collecting the information from patients for those metrics places burdens on physicians, and some remain skeptical of bonuses and penalties tied to a measure that derives from a subjective factor: what patients think.


COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy - 01/04/2021

Physicians have proven ways to respond to patients’ reluctance on vaccines.


A Different Kind of Patient: CME from TMA Helps Docs ID Human Trafficking Victims - 01/04/2021

A newly revised Texas Medical Association CME teaches physicians how to recognize human trafficking victims who come into their office, and how to help these patients escape what’s sometimes referred to as “modern-day slavery.”


The Tele-Future is Now: Will Telemedicine's Footprint Be Permanent Post-COVID-19? - 12/29/2020

COVID-19 threw Texas physicians headlong into telemedicine. Will its increased footprint be permanent? Physicians tell Texas Medicine that depends how telemedicine will be regulated and paid for.


Operation Distribution: Physicians Key in COVID-19 Vaccines Distribution - 12/02/2020

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are closer than ever to use by the general public, many questions remain about how they will be distributed to Texas physicians – and how they’ll be received by Texans. That’s why TMA in October weighed in on the state’s distribution plan with recommendations to help ensure COVID-19 vaccines are not only distributed effectively and efficiently, but also seen as trusted tools in the fight against the illness.


Use It or Lose It: Texas’ New Behavioral Health Program Can Help Only If Physicians Use It - 12/02/2020

What if Texas lawmakers created a mental health service that physicians asked for but then not many physicians used it? So far, that is what’s happening with the Child Psychiatric Access Network (CPAN), which gives pediatricians and family physicians across Texas free telemedicine-based consultation and training on community psychiatry.


Patient Privacy’s New Frontier: AMA Aims to Keep Apps Honest With Personal Health Data - 12/01/2020

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.


Rewarding Results: Texas Medicare ACOs Perform Promisingly - 11/30/2020

For the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and many of the accountable care organizations (ACOs) that participated in it, 2019 was billed as a transition year. But data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in September show Texas ACOs fared quite well last year – and a number of Texas physicians and ACO officials say the savings generated are worth the gruntwork that MSSP requires.


The Power of Community: TMA Envisions Locally Focused ACO Model - 11/30/2020

TMA is developing a promising, locally focused version of the accountable care organization (ACO) model that could help cover uninsured and underinsured Texans who fall in the gap or “hole” in the state’s safety net: those who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid coverage as it’s now administered in Texas, but also don’t qualify for Medicare.


Talk to Patients About: Why COVID-19 “Parties” Are a Bad Idea - 11/30/2020

Most people have gradually adjusted to the day-to-day changes caused by COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and social distancing. But others have looked for strategies to get around the hassles caused by the pandemic. In some cases, this has included deliberately trying to contract the potentially deadly illness through “COVID parties,” events designed to expose people to someone with COVID-19.


Priority: Primary Care - 11/30/2020

The Texas Medical Association and other corners of organized medicine know primary care is part of the bedrock of a sturdy health care system. So medicine – including the Texas Primary Care Consortium (TPCC), of which TMA is a member, and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) – is engaging policymakers to not only help the state’s primary care system survive the pandemic, but also enable it to thrive for the long haul.


Effectively Counseling Patients Amid the Anti-Vaccination Movement - 11/20/2020

Primary care physicians are at the frontline of the annual battle against influenza. Many patients arrive at their clinician’s office with erroneous information about the vaccine and have already decided to refuse their flu shot before they walk through the clinic doors. In response, practices and providers across the country have amplified their efforts.


Talk to Patients About: ACIP - 11/20/2020

Two federal agencies oversee the way vaccines reach the U.S. public. But only one of them guides physicians on the best way to use those vaccines. That agency is the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the way private companies develop and produce vaccines.)


Telemedicine Boot Camp: Physicians Get Trained for the Future of Remote Care - 11/12/2020

Thanks in large part to COVID-19, telemedicine has arrived. Where does it go from here? That was much of the focus of a Telehealth Virtual Bootcamp, an Aug. 29 presentation by the Telehealth Initiative that touched on technology, applications, and payment.


A Case for More Coverage: Studies Suggest Medicaid Expansion Would Fiscally Benefit Texas - 11/12/2020

Two recent studies suggest expanding Medicaid will not only save Texas money, but add to the Lone Star State’s coffers.


Champions of Medicine: TEXPAC-Endorsed Incumbents Head to November Elections - 10/30/2020

Each election, TEXPAC, the Texas Medical Association’s nonpartisan political arm, throws its support behind candidates who have demonstrated their support for a medicine-friendly agenda.