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Staying the Course: Medicine Enters an Unprecedented Session at the Texas Legislature - 02/28/2021

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.


Texas Medicine Magazine - 02/28/2021

Texas Medicine Magazine


Texas Medicine Back Issues - 02/28/2021

Back Issues


Accelerating RPM: COVID-19 Speeds Adoption of Remote Patient Monitoring - 02/28/2021

Before March 2020, remote patient monitoring (RPM) was a tool endocrinologist Thomas Blevins, MD, used to help patients with diabetes track and regulate blood sugar levels and report the results back to him. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many doctors to turn to telemedicine, Dr. Blevins and the nine other physicians on staff at Austin Diabetes and Endocrinology had to rev up their RPM use.


Wrong Directive: Legal Shifts on End-of-Life Care Concern Physicians - 02/27/2021

Challenges to Texas laws governing end-of-life care, whether through legislative rewrites or judicial override, are nothing new. The recent success of those challenges is. In particular, two recent erosions have physicians like Houston palliative care specialist Mark Casanova, MD, chagrined and concerned about the future of doctors’ role in end-of-life treatment.


Outrageous Overreach Medicine Fights Broad Documentation Requests - 02/27/2021

When Andrew Indresano, MD, got a subpoena in January 2019, he found it “a little shocking” and “really invasive.” The Fort Worth orthopedic surgeon wasn’t even part of the personal-injury lawsuit for which he was being asked to produce a backward-looking swath of documents.


Leading Innovation: Physician Entrepreneur Develops App to Engage Patients - 02/27/2021

In 2015, Austin cardiologist Manish Chauhan, MD, decided to finally act on an idea he’d been knocking around for a while – something to fill a void he’d witnessed when it came to engaging patients in their care.


Spotlight on Vaccines: Pandemic May Open Gateway to Improve Vaccination Rates in Texas - 02/27/2021

The uneven rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in December created at least one bright spot for Texas physicians: It highlighted how the state could make vaccination more efficient.


Another Great Match: Most Texas Medical Graduates Matched With Residency Positions - 02/27/2021

Texas medical students have enjoyed some highly successful Match Weeks in recent years, but 2020 was the best since the Texas Medical Association Council of Medical School Deans began tracking match data in 2014.


No Escape: COVID-19 Continues to Exacerbate Physician Burnout - 02/09/2021

The malaise in physician practice long known as burnout – a term doctors increasingly balk at – has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as an extensive survey by the Physicians Foundation recently showed. It’s created its own stressors and made existing ones worse.


Hungering for a Solution: Physicians Can Help Tackle Food Insecurity - 02/01/2021

Not long after COVID-19 hit Texas last March, pediatricians at Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) began screening patients for food insecurity. The timing was coincidental but fortunate given the pandemic’s economic toll.


A Class By Themselves: Texas’ Newest Med Schools Adjust to COVID-19 - 02/01/2021

Texas opened two new medical schools in July – the University of Houston College of Medicine in Houston and Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Conroe. Thanks to COVID-19, both opened under circumstances that would have seemed bizarre just a year ago.


Talk to Patients About: Vaccines and SIDS - 02/01/2021

Over the years, several vaccines have been blamed for SIDS, including those for pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus influenzae type B, polio, and hepatitis B. This misconception has triggered a lot of scientific study to find out if vaccines could, in fact, cause SIDS. However, multiple studies and safety reviews have concluded that the answer is no, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


When the Fight Becomes Personal: Physicians Share Their Stories of Contracting COVID-19 - 02/01/2021

It’s no surprise that many physicians were among the more than 1.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas last year. Texas Medicine spoke with three Texas physicians who contracted COVID-19 to learn how the disease affected them physically and impacted their outlook as caregivers.


Commentary: Hard Lessons Learned - 02/01/2021

Every pandemic is different, but I think there are some hard lessons we’ve learned during this process that we would be wise to take to heart. Below are what I consider three of the most important ones.


Commentary: This Is Not a Drill - 02/01/2021

On Jan. 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus, later named “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2), in the U.S. At the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) we realized it was only a matter of time before the virus arrived in Texas. By Jan. 31, we activated the DSHS State Medical Operations Center to prepare for the coming crisis.


The Customer Is Always Right? Patient-Reported Outcome Measures Have Fans and Detractors - 01/26/2021

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.


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).


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.


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.”