Magazine story

Doctors Drive New Opioid Laws - 08/23/2019

Several new laws will affect how physicians practice and how they prescribe controlled substances, including a delay on required checks of the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP); a limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain; and a new electronic prescribing requirement coming in 2021.


Fighting Back: Practice Wins Court Battle Over Defamatory Online Reviews - 08/23/2019

One practice’s recent legal battle epitomizes physicians’ worst nightmares when it comes to online reviews. Here’s an extreme but glaring real world example, straight from the documents in a lawsuit that Austin Eye first filed in October 2017 over


Unlocking Doors: Minority Scholarship Program Connects Students with Mentors - 08/19/2019

When the Texas Medical Association founded its Minority Scholarship Program in 1998 to diversify the physician workforce, Dr. Ramamurthy became both a contributor and a mentor to students who receive the scholarships. “When you’re mentoring students, one of the things that you want them to understand is that you’re somebody they can talk to who is not only there as a teacher, but as a friend,” she said. Other top donors to the Minority Scholarship serve voluntarily as mentors to student awardees. TMA encourages those arrangements because they can benefit both parties.


Quality Care Pilot Takes Flight - 08/19/2019

How one children's clinic uses a targeted program to dramatically improve care, lower costs.


A New Understanding: Improving Care for LGBTQ Patients - 08/19/2019

Like everyone else, LGBTQ patients can face some unusual medical problems. But many of these patients’ biggest challenge is that their health problems can be amplified by hostility from others. Meanwhile, structural problems within the health care system frequently discourage LGBTQ patients from visiting physicians. LGBTQ patients frequently avoid physicians because of previous bad experiences. Many physicians who would like to treat LGBTQ patients often hesitate because they fear they lack the training.


“The future” of pain treatment? - 08/15/2019

Some physicians, depending on the situation, are avoiding opioids to every reasonable degree, doing their part to keep patients off the drugs that killed more than 42,000 people in the United States in 2016. Fort Worth anesthesiologist Aaron Shiraz, MD, and his group, Trinity Medical Associates, are taking it to a rarely seen extreme.


Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization in Texas 1999 to 2010 - 08/14/2019

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the role public sector payers (Medicare and Medicaid) and providers (Texas state mental health hospitals) play in psychiatric hospitalization, using Texas annual hospital discharge files from 1999 to 2010. Psychiatric hospitalization, as defined by a primary behavioral health diagnosis (ICD-9 diagnoses 290-314.99) averaged 146,876 discharges per year, approximately 5.24% of all hospitalizations in the state. Children younger than 18 years accounted for 27,035 discharges per year. The top 4 diagnostic groups were depression (29%), bipolar disorder (22%), schizophrenia (18%), and alcohol-drug disorders (14%). More patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders were served by the public sector, while more patients with depression or alcohol-drug disorders were served by private insurance. Interestingly, patients with bipolar disorder were distributed relatively evenly across both payment groups and ages. Length of stay decreased fr...


A Qualitative Approach to Understanding HIV-Related Stress in Texas - 08/14/2019

Much of the southern United States is characterized by unique social, structural, and political systems that may relate to increased stress and poor health outcomes for those living with HIV. Notably, research indicates that Texas has higher survival rates for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) than general southern trends, which might suggest that Texans living with HIV experience HIV-related stressors and coping strategies influential to health differently than those living elsewhere in the South. This study used grounded theory and semi-structured interviews to increase understanding of HIV-related stress in Texas. Participants (N=20) were 12 people living with HIV in Texas and 8 HIV-care providers in Texas. Results indicated 5 emergent stress-related themes: housing strain, substance use, limited financial abilities, relationship dynamics, and internal pressures and psychosocial resiliency. Results also highlighted some of the potential...


Mobilizing Against Measles: Physicians Face the Worst National Outbreak in Decades - 08/12/2019

Measles – a deadly disease the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared eradicated in America in 2000 – has made an unwelcome return in 2019. The anti-vaccine movement is weakening Texas’ ability to withstand outbreaks, but there are still many things physicians can do to work with patients and communities to improve vaccination rates.


Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress: A Successful Legislative Session for Physicians - 08/06/2019

Legislation is just one piece of a healthy Texas. But it’s a big piece, and when the Texas Medical Association told the lawmakers of 2019 how it should fit, those legislators largely shaped it to what physicians and patients need. The house of medicine convinced lawmakers that raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 was the right thing for the state’s present and future. Medicine also successfully persuaded the legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott to improve insurance network adequacy and directories, which will help with surprise medical bills.


The Journal of Texas Medicine - 08/05/2019

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On Call at the Capitol: TMA's 2019 Legislative Agenda - 08/02/2019

When the 86th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, TMA will build on its major successes of 2017, renew some of the biggest battles that stalled two years ago, and tackle relatively new ones. Physicians will make their case to a somewhat new makeup of lawmakers as they pursue better Medicaid coverage for postpartum women, insurer accountability for narrow networks, more funding for community mental health, and many other aims.


All Together Now: Health Care Mergers Reshape the Way Texas Physicians Practice - 08/02/2019

Consolidation has touched just about every part of today’s health care industry. Hospitals, medical practices, pharmacies, insurance companies are all merging in various ways — a trend epitomized by the 2018 announcement that hospital systems Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas and Memorial Hermann in Houston plan to become one big nonprofit.


The Making of a Med School - 08/02/2019

Building more medical schoos might seem like an obvious answer to the doctor shortage, especially because medical schools can bring other benefits to a community beyond producing physicians, including prestige, high-paying jobs, and improved health care services. But not everyone is a fan of the idea, and starting one from scratch is complicated. Some have struggled more than others to get established, mostly because of funding.


Out in the Cold: Health Plan Blamed For Major Prompt-Pay Mess - 08/02/2019

Molina Healthcare of Texas isn’t the only insurer to give physicians prompt-pay problems, and it won’t be the last. Some of the practices trying to recover payments blame not just the health plan, but also the extended response time from the state regulator overseeing insurance products and conduct: the Texas Department of Insurance, which says it’s hiring staff and making other changes to improve that response.


Talk to Patients About: Tetanus - 08/02/2019

Almost all U.S. tetanus cases occur among people who are unvaccinated or did not receive a booster shot, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Unfair Playing Field? QPP Scoring May Hurt Physicians Not Hospital-Affiliated - 08/02/2019

As 2019 rolls on and physicians operate under new portions of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), many physicians may face an even bigger disadvantage — simply by virtue of not billing the vast majority of their services at a hospital.


Searching for a Better Online Reputation - 08/02/2019

What people see on the internet can bring in — or drive away — patients. But most physicians are not trained in either communications or digital technology, and so have little understanding of the financial impact of search engines, social media, and review sites.


Borders Without Enough Doctors: El Paso Physicians Volunteer Care for Asylum-Seekers - 08/02/2019

Dr. Gutierrez is part of a small group of El Paso physicians who provide volunteer medical care at the city’s 18 shelters for asylum-seekers entering the United States through the Texas border. What started in October 2018 as a local, ad hoc way to address health care needs among the steady stream of immigrants is gradually turning into a statewide — even national — network of volunteer physicians.


AIMing to Save Lives: More Standardized Care Could Bring Down Texas' Maternal Death Rate - 08/02/2019

Texas’ maternal death rate is still high, and public health officials are betting that more standardized care will bring it down with guidelines set up by the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM).


Respecting the Roles: TMA Battles Another Round of Scope of Practice Bills - 08/02/2019

When nonmedical professionals ask the Texas Legislature for the authority to practice medicine, TMA mounts a full-court press, letting lawmakers know why there are some roles only physicians can fill.


Talk to Patients About: Hepatitis B - 08/02/2019

There are six different vaccines for hepatitis B in the United States, so there’s no shortage of tools to prevent it. Yet in 2016, more than 1,698 people in this country – and more than 780,000 worldwide – died from this viral liver infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.


Pushing the Envelope: Match Day, Medicine’s Rite of Passage - 08/02/2019

On March 15, more than 200 medical school seniors, as well as their friends and family, gathered outdoors in Webber Plaza behind the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston. The students were about to learn where they’d be doing their residency training.


Most Valuable Team: Managing Nonphysician Staff Efficiently Can Boost Patient Care and Bottom Line - 08/02/2019

Because state laws and insurer billing requirements governing physician delegation and supervision can be tricky to navigate, practices must stay up to date to avoid potential penalties.


Q&A: SeattleMamaDoc Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, Headlines TexMed 2019 - 08/02/2019

Digital innovator, Seattle pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, will share her expertise at the May 17 opening general session at TexMed 2019 in Dallas. The title of Dr. Swanson’s talk: “How Technology is Transforming Health Care and the Physician-Patient Relationship.” Her answer to that question: “Rapidly and at a pace that’s hard for us to keep up.”