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Could a delay to the start of MACRA be in the works? Also, what makes radiology a unique specialty when it comes to physician pay?
Welcome to Practice Rounds, our weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
CMS: MACRA Delay Possible
The big news out of Washington D.C. this week for healthcare providers is a potential delay for implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). MACRA is scheduled to start Jan. 1, 2017, affecting Medicare payments in 2019. However, speaking to the Senate Finance Committee this week, CMS' Acting Administrator, Andy Slavitt said he knows that small practices might not have enough time to prepare for the switch and he is open to delaying the start. According to Healthcare Informatics, in regard to a delay of the program's start date, Slavitt said, "That option is on the table for us to consider to keep the feedback process open. We know this a long-term process, and this is just the first step."
Radiologists Stand Alone
A recent study in Journal of the American Medical Association revealed there is a significant pay gap between male and female doctors. While this affects most specialties, Diagnostic Imaging says that radiology is the lone exception. In fact, female radiologists actually earned more than their male counterparts; $285,127 to $282,749. The study adjusted salaries for sex, age, years of experience, faculty rank, specialty, scientific authorship, National Institutes of Health funding, clinical trial participation, and Medicare reimbursements.
Congress Addresses Opioids
The Senate passed a bill this week that aims to address the opioid crisis. The bill has already passed the House and will move to President Obama's desk. Obama indicated he will sign the bill, even though he says it doesn't do enough to address the crisis. According to NPR, the bill includes half of the $1.1 billion funding Obama requested. It sets up a task force that will study the best methods to treat pain and encourage states to create prescription drug monitoring programs. However, the money allocated will not be enough to put those programs in place, NPR reports.
How to Talk about Zika with Patients
As the summer progresses, the Zika virus becomes a more urgent public health issue in the U.S. As the disease spreads, physician discussions with their patients on how to prevent the disease are important, Medical Economics reports. Nitin S. Damle, a physician and president of the American College of Physicians as well as a member of the clinical faculty in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says physicians should first find out if the patient has been to a Zika-prevalent area or if they have a partner who has been diagnosed with the virus. Also, experts say physicians should explain the risks for adults, pregnant women, and their fetuses.
More tips can be found here.
Quote of the Week:
"When you talk to physicians about EHRs and they are unhappy about a situation, they'll say, 'It shows me too much stuff, it requires too many clicks, it has too many screens, it slows me down.' The smartphone apps on the other hand are designed to show them what you need."
Bradley Howard, MD, executive medical director at consulting firm Clinovations, a division of the Advisory Board Company