Welcome to Practice Rounds, our new weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
AMA Introduces MACRA Assistance
The AMA introduced tools this week that will help practices prepare for the upcoming transition to reimbursement under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The final parameters of MACRA, slated to be released at the end of October, will impact physician payments, starting in 2019. The AMA rolled out its Payment Model Evaluator, which will give practices an idea of how ready they're going to be for the MACRA's Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APMs) paths, and where they need help. Practices will need to answer questions and follow the steps — a 10-to-15 minute process — to find out where they fall short in preparation. AMA will provide the necessary educational resources. The association also released a variety of educational modules, podcasts, and other resources to assist in the transition.
Surgeons Red, Psychiatrists Blue
The New York Times' Upshot blog along with researchers at Yale University released data this week that revealed which specialties are registered Republicans. What they found is that 67 percent of surgeons are registered as Republicans, while only 23 percent of infectious disease physicians and 24 percent of psychiatrists lean red. Recently, Physicians Practice's Great American Survey revealed that of the 1,314 physicians surveyed, 36.9 percent of respondents said they were registered Republicans, 26.6 percent said Democrat, and 28.4 percent said Independent. The New York Times' data also revealed that typically the specialties that made the most tended to be Republicans, while the lower end of the earnings scale were not. Overall, the researchers found that doctors were generally split between the parties. Overall, 46 percent of doctors were registered as Republicans, according to The New York Times' data.
Hackers Sitting on Patient Data
Healthcare hackers are being more patient with the data they've stolen from patients, according to Health Data Management. The hackers are sitting on the data and waiting until the automatic credit monitoring services offered to patients expire. According to Pam Hepp, a healthcare attorney at the Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney law firm in Pittsburgh, once the hackers decide to use the data, they can generate false claims for medical equipment, home or health services that were not delivered, or other services. They don't even have to use real patients, she says, adding that even if practices are doing "robust risk assessments," hackers will always be one step ahead.
MDs Weigh in on Fitness Tracker Study
Patient Care (previously name Consultant Live) spoke to a panel of preventive medicine experts about a recent study that revealed fitness trackers don't boost weigh loss. The experts say that the the study's results did not surprise them. H. Robert Silverstein, medical director at The Preventive Medicine Center in Hartford, Conn., said that the habits that contribute to being overweight "will not be improved with very simple means such as wearable technology." Lona Sandon, program director and assistant professor, Department of Clinical Nutrition, School of Health Professions at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said that there has to be more than just technology to spur you on. "If all you do is aim for 10,000 steps per day and you never challenge yourself beyond that, your fitness level does not improve any further and you likely plateau in weight and the tracker becomes useless," she said.
Quote of the Week:
"When I was a high school student, I worked for our local general practitioner. He would double and triple book 15-minute appointment slots. Today, this seems ludicrous to me as I can do almost no single visit in just 15 minutes."
Jennifer Frank, MD, family physician