Breaking the Chain of Infection with Contact Tracing by Dr. Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

Breaking the Chain of Infection with Contact Tracing by Dr. Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

As states and cities begin to re-open throughout the United States, contact tracing will become one of the most important public health measures in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and likely in public health history. Contact tracing involves the act of tracking new cases through a centralized system utilizing trained public health professionals in order to find new, COVID positive patients that are at increased risk of infecting others. Contact tracing is multifaceted and has the potential for slowing the rate of new incident cases as well as “flattening the curve”, which will be vital to curbing the inevitable rebound in COVID cases from the relaxation of social distancing measures. This will be critical while we pursue a potential vaccine and work to reopen the...

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THE COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT CRISIS

THE COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT CRISIS

Unemployment numbers have been escalating amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here in the United States, rates rose in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics (see map image). In 43 states, record highs were set and the national unemployment rate soared to 14.7%, compared to just 4.4% in March and a near 50-year-low of 3.5% in February. Many considered “non-essential” workers have found themselves out of work and filing for unemployment for the first time in their entire careers. We spoke to Sue and her husband Jim, who have asked us not to use their real names for fear of legal recourse from their former employers. Jim is in the entertainment industry, a comedian, event producer and actor who says work has simply stopped for now. His wife Sue, who...

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PANDEMIC STRESS – THE GREAT EQUALIZER

PANDEMIC STRESS – THE GREAT EQUALIZER

I am lucky in that I still have my job while so many have been forced to apply for unemployment benefits during this public health crisis. That includes my husband who works in outdoor event production, which at the moment is completely shut down. My industry, online education, is one of the few verticals that has expanded quickly to accommodate so many learners stuck indoors. While I worked remotely before the pandemic; my kids went to school, my husband traveled frequently, and my college student lived on campus and was not having “zoom” parties until all hours of the night one thin wall away. My son’s college admission process is in an equal state of upheaval. My 13-year-old daughter has to be dragged away from Netflix to interact with us and my 2nd grader cannot understand a world...

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PANDEMIC STRESS – THE GREAT EQUALIZER

Navigating the New Normal – Tech, Telehealth and Security in a Crisis

While it is too early to assess the damage caused by this global pandemic, there are signs that it will permanently change the way society functions. From its impact on the global economy to our daily lives, COVID-19 will leave an enormous impact on the ways in which we consume, how we learn, work, socialize, communicate and of course, how we stay healthy. Society runs on information and connections, and your patients live in an age where both are immediately accessible, anytime, anywhere. During the pandemic, in just a few short months, everyone, the very young and very old are learning to zoom, skype and facetime, in an effort to see grandkids and friends. Cyber skills are being honed globally at an incredible rate of speed. Crisis tends to do that to technology. Just as the healthcare...

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A Practical Guide to Telehealth during the Pandemic and Beyond

A Practical Guide to Telehealth during the Pandemic and Beyond

President Donald Trump announced a dramatic expansion of covered Telehealth services last week for Medicare recipients. So what does that mean for you as Healthcare providers and for Medicare patients? In the decades that Telemedicine has been in existence, there has been the introduction of more technology for various specialties to participate in this ever-growing sector. Many healthcare facilities have been poised to offer Telehealth services for medical specialties such as Cardiology, Genetic counseling, Dermatology, Oncology, Obstetrics, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry, Endocrinology, and even dental care. In fact, over 80% of hospitals nationwide are already set up with some form of Telehealth services. Radiology departments nationwide routinely use a form of Telehealth because often the...

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THE COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT CRISIS

Educational Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The World Health Organization just declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. "This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, with cases passing 115,000 worldwide," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. With the outbreak of Coronavirus taking hold in the United States, colleges from coast to coast are scrambling to ramp up remote learning alternatives for their students. It’s not only time to react, it’s smart to react.  Spread of COVID-19 coronavirus is in the U.S. with over 750 cases and 31 deaths as of Tuesday, March 10th. The Department of Education issued guidance for colleges to implement distance learning, while the Centers for Disease Control released an outline for schools to prevent the spread of disease.  You don’t have to look far...

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Compliance isn’t Cybersecurity

Compliance isn’t Cybersecurity

During a risk analysis and compliant review, I showed a distraught CEO that she had over $ 5.8 million in regulated data on an unencrypted desktop computer, that wasn’t backed up, with a user password set to never expire. It hit close to home, because the data included the Social Security Numbers of the entire staff, including hers. She asked me, “Why aren’t our people following our policies?!” Simply put, the organization prioritized compliance policies over validating cybersecurity and assumed- incorrectly – that cybersecurity would automatically follow. The leadership team thought their written encryption policy meant that all sensitive and regulated data would automatically be stored on encrypted devices. They thought their password policies meant that their IT department...

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Searching for the MIPS ROI: Is Perfect the Enemy of Good?

Searching for the MIPS ROI: Is Perfect the Enemy of Good?

As someone who’s spent the better part of a decade consulting on quality programs with healthcare organizations of all sizes and specialties, I find it’s rare to meet a doctor or practice administrator who is genuinely happy about all the changes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has brought to their organizations. However, the frustration level I’ve been hearing from them lately feels different than just a general resistance to change. For many, despite their best efforts to keep in line with government requirements, align staff, technology, and financial resources to overcome the hurdles of changing workflows, new software systems, etc., they seem to struggle with the cost/benefit analysis and are legitimately questioning whether it’s worth it to put so many resources into a...

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Combating Systemic Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

While researching the new 4MedPlus CMS Fraud, Waste and Abuse compliance course, I spent a good deal of time reading through case studies on this informative and disturbing FBI website: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/health-care-fraud/health-care-fraud-news. When I started this project, I didn’t even realize this web page existed and now I am a weekly visitor. I am sincerely fascinated at the brazen attempts by so many, to steal from medical providers and patients. In the first half of December alone, there were eight major cases listed, resulting in fines, suspensions and incarceration. It was one of these recent stories that really shocked me. The perpetrators were sentenced to prison (rightfully so) for their participation in a $30 million scheme to defraud...

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MIPS 2020 Final Rule: What you need to know in Easy-to-Read Bullets!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Calendar Year (CY) 2020 FINAL Rule for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). The MPFS dictates Medicare rates and policies under Part B, while the Quality Payment Program (QPP) implements two key value-based payment programs: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs). The proposal is very long at over 1700 pages! Since the team at Chirpybird Health IT Consulting are the experts of the MIPS Quality Payment Program we are bringing you the MIPS highlights to you section-by-section segments and give you the most pertinent bullets! Overview: The threshold to avoid a penalty is changing. The performance threshold is rising from 30 points to 45! Eligibility requirements remain...

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