Get information on payers in one place! HCMS Business of Medicine seminar
The Harris County Medical Society would like to assist its members with making the administrative process in their offices more efficient. Physicians and their staff are invited to attend the HCMS Business of Medicine seminar dedicated to decreasing the administrative burden in physicians’ offices through the Internet. HCMS has limited seating for the seminar so please register very soon. At the seminar, learn how to:
• Get your claim status, appeal claims, get eligibility, benefits, reports, health plan information, a snapshot of practice payer status, and much more…all in one place;
• Learn how the Internet can help you be more efficient; (New buzz words – administrative Web portals); and
• Come and talk to the local health plan representatives about what they have to offer.
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009
Time: 8:30 - 9 a.m. registration; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. presentations
Location: Marriott Westchase, 2900 Briarpark Drive, Houston, TX 77042.
Cost: Only $25 for members and their staff. Nonmembers pay $225.
To register for this valuable seminar click here . To request a flyer, fax a request to 713-528-0951.
Presented by the HCMS Board on Socioeconomics through its Health Plan Liaison Committee
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Free help getting paid: 5 locations
Are coding problems keeping you from being paid? Schedule your free and private 30-minute reimbursement consultation with a Texas Medical Association (TMA) reimbursement expert at the following locations:
• Monday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
San Jacinto Methodist Hospital
4401 Garth Road—1st Flr Conference Rm 2
Baytown, TX 77521
• Tuesday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
250 Blossom, 3rd Floor Board Room
Webster, TX 77598
• Wednesday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital
7600 Beechnut—Austin Room 1
Houston, TX 77074
• Thursday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Houston Northwest Medical Center
Medical Office Building
800 Peakwood, Suite 1D
Houston, TX 77090
• Friday, Oct. 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Harris County Medical Society offices
John P. McGovern Building
1515 Hermann Drive, 2nd Floor
Houston, TX 77004
Come prepared to discuss specific issues with the reimbursement expert. The free and private consultation will help you find solutions to primary/secondary coverage issues, slow paying carriers, collection problems, late-filing appeals, Medicaid, Medicare, coding, and much more. At the consultation you will receive free reference materials to help keep your practice running smoothly.
Call now to schedule your free appointment to learn how you can improve your payment/collection processes. For more information, contact Suzy Pero at 713-524-4267 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The consultations are a benefit of HCMS/TMA membership.
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The economy & your finances -
Lunch & Learn during HCMS Business Expo
Come learn about the future of your investments and the economy during the HCMS Fall Business Expo, Lunch & Learn, Saturday, Nov. 7, at Reliant Center, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Jill Foote, a senior lecturer in finance at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, will speak about “Investments - The Crisis Past? The Crisis Ahead?” This lecture will explore various financial markets – stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, and alternative assets – with a dual focus on current trends and performance and future investment opportunities and risks. The current and predicted state of the economy, money flows, and other factors that impact these markets will be reviewed. Thoughts for possible asset classes with greater performance and/or lesser risk in the near future will be shared.
The Expo also includes three CME seminars, two of which are ethics, on: EMR adoptions and the stimulus package; patient satisfaction; and how to improve a practice’s financial health.
Attendance at the Expo and seminars is free of charge to HCMS members and their staff; however, lunch at the Lunch & Learn has to be pre-ordered and paid ($12 per lunch). Although registration is not required, those who register by Oct. 3 will receive a free parking pass (worth $8). For more information about the seminars or vendors at the Expo or to receive the free parking pass, click here or call 713-526-7378. See you at the Expo!
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Get ready for Medicare’s Recovery Audits
Did you know that under Medicare’s Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program, any physician who bills Medicare is fair game for an audit? RACs use Part B claims data to identify underpayments and overpayments, looking for physicians whose billings for Medicare services are higher or lower than the majority of their peers in the community. In Texas, the Medicare RAC is Connolly Healthcare (Connolly).
To conduct the audit, Connolly will request patients’ medical records from physicians. Connolly is allowed to review claims with paid dates on or after Oct. 1, 2007.
What can physicians do to prepare?
• Physicians can conduct their own internal review, and correct areas where they might be vulnerable. In particular, Connolly will look for improper payments resulting from:
o Noncovered/unnecessary services;
o Incorrect coding;
o Insufficient or no documentation; and
o Duplicate services.
• Physicians can develop a plan and internal processes to respond to Connolly’s medical record requests. Those audited will have only 45 days to respond.
Tools to help prepare for a Medicare RAC audit:
• Read the August 2009 Texas Medicine article, “Getting Ready for RACs: Medicare Begins Auditing Physician Payments” (members only) at ww.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=7914.
• Go to www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=4131 to listen to the RAC audio while viewing PowerPoint slides to learn more about Connolly Healthcare’s role as the Texas RAC and how it will affect physicians.
• Register now for TMA’s “Medicare Update 2010.” This daylong seminar will be held in Houston on Tuesday, Nov 10, at the Crowne Plaza Houston near Reliant Park/Medical Center, 8686 Kirby Drive.
This seminar will introduce physicians to the ins and outs of the RAC programs, and review the Medicare appeals process. Plus physicians will learn about coding and enrollment updates. Register today at www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=7998.
Source: TMA and CMS
Presented by the HCMS Board on Socioeconomics
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Dr. Lewis E. Foxhall
Old flu and new – Be prepared and stay informed
Fear and panic were in the air this spring as schools were closed and public events were canceled due to the H1N1 influenza. Since its arrival in the United States, more than one million Americans have been infected with H1N1 and 600 have died from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We now know more about this variant of influenza and can be better prepared to deal with it as flu season approaches, but we need to stay informed and take action.
Because there is so much conflicting information in the public arena, the Harris County Medical Society (HCMS) has created physician and patient flyers on H1N1—using the most updated information from the CDC. To download copies of the flyers for your practice, go to www.hcms.org. These flyers will be updated regularly, since the reality on the ground is shifting.
As physicians, our patients look to us for answers. There are four key steps identified by the CDC you can take immediately to assist your patients in maintaining their health and calming their fears:
1. Prepare yourself and your practice. As your patients become infected with the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus, it is critical for you and your staff to be operational and available to care for them. The first step is for you to be vaccinated and have your practice staff vaccinated for seasonal flu and H1N1. CDC has included health care and emergency medical services workers in the priority group for H1N1 vaccination. Historically, only 45 percent of health care personnel get vaccinated. I encourage each of you to improve on this statistic.
Know that some of your employees will get sick. Therefore, when possible, cross train your staff so they can cover for each other. Plan that a surge of patients will seek your care and ask for information. Know that there will be an increased demand on your telephone system.
Finally, whenever practical, isolate patients with H1N1 symptoms away from your other patients. This includes, asking your staff to perform phone triage to determine if calling patients have H1N1 symptoms and setting a special time/place to see these patients. A decision algorithm is available through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) at www.dshs.state.tx.us/txflu/DCHHS-H1N1.pdf.
2. Educate your patients. Instruct your patients to wash their hands frequently and/or use alcohol sanitizer; cough into their arm, not their hands; stay home when they are sick at least until they have no fever for 24 hours without medication; and get vaccinated for the seasonal flu and, if appropriate, get the H1N1 vaccine. Besides health care and emergency service workers, the CDC recognized the following groups as at risk and priority for the H1N1 vaccine: pregnant women, people who live with or care for babies under 6 months of age, children and young people age 6 months to 18 years, all young adults 19 to 24, and people age 24 to 64 with certain chronic medical conditions.
HCMS has created a flyer specifically designed to educate your patients in your reception area about the virus, preparing them for your follow-up conversation. The downloadable flier is available at www.hcms.org. Also, you can link the HCMS Web site to your practice Web site to assist in educating your patients about H1N1.
3. Register to order the H1N1 vaccine, if you serve at-risk patients. Physicians must register at www.TexasFlu.org to order the vaccine. It will be distributed exclusively through DSHS, rather than traditional vaccine distribution channels. Although DSHS encouraged physicians to pre-register by Sept. 13 to aid statewide planning, officials now say pre-registration will continue throughout the H1N1 vaccination campaign. The vaccines will be sent in increments of 100. Texas can expect to receive its first shipment during the first week of October, a second shipment by mid-October and regular weekly shipments by the end of the month. The vaccine will confer protection from the virus eight to 10 days after administered. The CDC believes that a single injection (one dose) will suffice to protect against the virus for individuals over 10 years old. However, children under age 10 should receive two doses. The H1N1 vaccine can be administered at the same time as the shot against the seasonal flu.
4. Stay informed. This is probably the single most important step! Although recently much of the information on the H1N1 vaccine has solidified, much about the flu itself and the vaccine remains fluid. Stay informed by regularly visiting the HCMS Web site , the DSHS Web site (www.texasflu.org), the Harris County Health Department Web site (www.hchd.org/flu/pandemicplan.htm), and the city of Houston Web site (www.houstontx.gov/health/swineflu.html) for updates. Also, sign up to have HCMS e-mail you the latest information on H1N1 by going to www.hcms.org and clicking on News in the left margin, then clicking on HCMS Direct-Public Health. More information is available on CDC’s Web site, www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/.
Our patients are looking to us for guidance and assistance. As always, physicians will serve on the front lines of this public health challenge. If you have questions or need further information not found above, please contact HCMS at 713-524-4267.
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Dr. Ben Walpole, a general practice physician, died July 25. He had been a member of HCMS for 63 years.
Dr. George D. Broyles Jr., a general surgeon, died Sept. 15. He had been a member of HCMS for 61 years.
Dr. Edward A. Gaer, a neurologist, died Sept. 9. He had been a member of HCMS for 20 years.
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Public Health Focus
Shortage of Erythromycin (0.5%) Ophthalmic Ointment
A nationwide shortage of erythromycin (0.5%) ophthalmic ointment currently exists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other experts to provide updates regarding the shortage. CDC guidance on securing supplies and recommendations for preventing increases in the occurrence of ophthalmia neonatorum during the shortage can be found at: www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2006/erythromycinOintmentShortage.htm.
Additionally, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will propose emergency rules to add 1% azithromycin ophthalmic solution, 0.3% gentamicin ophthalmic ointment, and 0.3% tobramycin ophthalmic ointment to 0.5% erythromycin ophthalmic ointment as approved prophylactic treatments for newborns.
For treatment questions during the shortage contact: Dr. Nick Curry, nick.curry@dshs. state.tx.us, at 512-533-300, or Dr. Robert Kaspar, email@example.com, 512-458-7111, ext. 3200.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services
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Please note that candidates for HCMS membership can now be found by going to the HCMS Web site.
Members who have information about these physicians should contact a member of the Board of Ethics. Members of the board are: Chair Dr. Gary J. Sheppard and Drs. William J. Riley, Fred M. Sutton, Jr., Denis K. Hoasjoe, Clare A. Hawkins, and Jacob Tal. Call HCMS at 713-524-4267.
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‘HOT’ Member Benefit
Medical Practice Listings
Introduced in the 2009 HCMS/HAM Pictorial Roster, the Medical Practice Listings section enables physicians to promote their practice to colleagues by sharing information on office locations, procedures performed, etc. The new section is located immediately after the "Physicians by Specialty" section. For more information on adding your practice to the 2010 edition, call 713-526-7378.
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TMA’s campaign on HSR
Believing that President Obama and Congress must slow down and get health system reform right, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) has launched the "Me and My Doctor, We Know Best" patient-physician action campaign.
"The most important people in the national health care debate are sitting in your exam room right now," said TMA President Dr. William H. Fleming III. "Working together, physicians and patients need to make sure Congress and the president fix what's wrong with our health care system and keep what's good."
The "Me and My Doctor, We Know Best" action campaign includes:
• Patient education posters for physician reception areas or exam rooms, bumper stickers for staff/colleagues/patients, lapel stickers, and pre-addressed postcards for patients to send to President Obama and Congress. To order online click here or call the TMA Knowledge Center at 800-880-7955. September's Texas Medicine magazine included two more "Me and My Doctor" posters.
• www.MeAndMyDoctor.com – an online advocacy center for patients. This special campaign Web site stays up to date with what patients need to know about the health care debate. It allows patients a way to share their thoughts and concerns with TMA or write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper. The latest in social media tools, like a Facebook Cause campaign and a Twitter petition, are included.
The survey results from TMA and county medical societies House Calls on health care reform, which were held statewide, are available by clicking here. TMA and HCMS held three House Call meetings in Houston. These two-hour public sessions, during which physicians listened to their patients' concerns about the health care system, elicited positive news media coverage on the issues and on how physicians work closely with patients, for patients.
HCMS and TMA urge physicians to contact their senators and representatives. Physicians can use TMA’s action alerts to send the right message to Congress.
"I truly believe this debate will be the defining moment for this generation of American physicians. The outcome could be terribly good… or just plain terrible," Dr. Fleming said. "Please join with your patients and your colleagues in TMA in this critical engagement. Remember, 'We and Our Patients, We Know Best.’”
Source: TMA Action, Sept. 1
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Business of Medicine
Prepare your practice for EMRs
Attend a Texas Medical Association seminar on buying and using electronic medical records (EMRs) and how to qualify for the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) incentives, which state that Medicare physicians could earn a bonus of up to $44,000 for “meaningful use” of EMRs through 2015 and Medicaid physicians could earn up to $63,750.
The TMA seminar will be held Thursday, Oct. 22, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Hilton Houston Westchase (9999 Westheimer). For more information, go to www.texmed.org/Template. aspx?id=7963 or call the TMA Knowledge Center at 800-880-7955. To have local CMEs e-mailed directly to you, sign up for HCMS Direct.
Source: Texas Medical Association
Presented by the HCMS Board on Socioeconomics and Board of Ethics
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A Night in Monte Carlo with HCMS Alliance
Make plans to attend A Night in Monte Carlo, the Harris County Medical Society Alliance’s (HCMSA) annual fundraising event, Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Lakeside Country Club, located at 100 Wilcrest Drive in the Memorial area.
The evening begins with a reception and silent auction at 7 p.m. Take your chances at the blackjack, craps, roulette, and Texas Holdem poker tables. The Alliance has lined up some exciting auction items and a fabulous raffle. Enjoy the sounds of a live quartet while you party casino style with the Alliance.
At the event, the Alliance will be honoring Linda Russell, CEO of The Women’s Hospital, and HCMS President Dr. Lewis E. Foxhall for their dedication to providing excellent health care to the Houston community.
All proceeds from A Night in Monte Carlo support the Philanthropic Fund, which enables the Alliance to continue to provide funds for nursing and medical student scholarships as well as help to fund health-related and educational programs for children and adults. The Philanthropic Fund is the charity arm of the HCMS Alliance. For more information, call Emily Morgan at 713-806-2457.
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Profiles of 2010 Candidates for HCMS Elective Offices
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