CMS Launches Patients over Paperwork Initiative

Also: President Donald Trump declared a national public health emergency for the opioid epidemic this week.

Welcome to Practice Rounds, our weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.


Trump Declares Opioid Emergency

President Donald Trump declared a national public health emergency for the opioid epidemic this week. During his announcement of the declaration, Trump said that no part of society had been spared by the opioid epidemic and that it would "require all of our efforts." In a statement following his comments, the American Medical Association commended his declaration and agreed with that sentiment about needing all sides. "Ending the epidemic will require physicians, insurers, drug manufacturers, and the government to follow through with resources, evidence-based treatment plans and smart public policies at the national and state levels," the organization said.

Some criticized the President's declaration because it didn't include any additional funding to combat the epidemic. The Trump administration responded to critics by saying that since he took office, more than $1 billion in funding has been assigned to address the opioid crisis.

CMS Launches Patients over Paperwork Initiative

This week, CMS administrator Seema Verma launched the "Patients over Paperwork" initiative, which will aim to reduce regulations for physicians, Medpage Today reports. Verma announced the initiative at a meeting between various provider stakeholder groups in Washington D.C.  CMS officials will go to physician offices across the country to find out which regulations are the most onerous and should be adjusted. American Hospital Association CEO Rick Pollack applauded CMS' announcement and encouraged the agency to look at modernizing "fraud and abuse rules" and focus on quality reporting measures that matter. He also noted AHA released a report recently that revealed providers spend nearly $39 billion a year on administrative activities related to regulatory compliance.

Diabetes Screening Working Well

A new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that physicians are doing a better job screening patients for diabetes. Researchers looked at a 26-year period and found that while the prevalence of diabetes cases has gone up, so too has physicians' ability to diagnose. Specifically, the researchers found that over the 26-year period the proportion of missed cases of diabetes dropped 16.3 to 10.9 percent. The majority of undiagnosed cases of diabetes are people who are overweight or obese, and are more likely to be ethnic minorities. "Understanding the proportion of diabetes cases that are actually undiagnosed, and who those patient groups are, is really critical to allocation of public health resources," Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, a professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology and the study's lead author said in a statement.

Doc Input Needed on EHR Development

Physicians are getting fed up with EHR vendors not responding to their suggestions on how to improve their products, according to Medical Economics. Keith Aldinger, MD, a Houston internist in a two-physician practice, told the publication that he had reached out to his vendor about "easy corrections" and had never heard back. James Dunnick, MD, FACC, who provides EHR training to other doctors as head of The Dunnick Group, LLC, in New Orleans, says that the reason EHR vendors don't ask for physician input when designing EHRs is that they're not required to do so. In fact, payment reform has made it a requirement for physicians to have EHRs, so regardless of any technological shortcomings, vendors are still going to make the sale.

Quote of the Week:

Different Solutions for the Physician Shortage

"There are days where, here I am with a lot of experience and higher education, and I'm pushing a stretcher down the hall for lack of somebody else to do it."

Karen Sibert, MD, President of the California Society of Anesthesiologists and a professor at UCLA.