“In the Interim” is a snapshot of the latest and most relevant news in the locum tenens industry. No repeats, less scrolling, more knowledge. Check out the articles we found most interesting for November’s roundup.
Locum Tenens Physician News: November 2021
1. Hundreds of Groups Ask Governors to Expand Telehealth Licensure Flexibilities
About 230 healthcare and industry organizations wrote a letter imploring governors to reevaluate expanded access to telehealth. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, licensure flexibility enabled medical professionals to deliver essential care across state lines. Although the emergency declarations are quickly expiring in many states, the effects of the pandemic are still in full force. Healthcare providers already crippled with burnout must now find the time and energy to notify thousands of out-of-state patients that their telehealth appointments are ending.
The letter urges governors to take a stand, “States must act now to ensure patients can access the care they need where they reside and when they need it, without having to choose between canceling an appointment or traveling long distances and risking potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus for an in-person visit.” In addition to health leaders, the letter received a plethora of notable signatures from industry representatives such as Amazon and Epic and prominent universities including Cornell and Princeton.
(Healthcare IT News, November 1, 2021)
2. Kareo and PatientPop Merge to Create All-in-one Provider Platform
With their recent merger, Kareo and PatientPop announce Tebra’s access to over 100,000 providers and more than 85 million patients (about twice the population of California).
Tebra, a play on “vertebra,” strives to become the first all-in-one platform to run a healthcare practice – the “digital backbone” of practice success. Providers can utilize PatientPop’s healthcare marketing to fuel patient acquisition and harness the power of Kareo’s clinical software to maintain electronic health records and billing.
(Fierce Healthcare, November 2, 2021)
3. Are Your Hobbies Connected to Your Specialty?
Dr. Lazarus explores a complicated topic with a refreshing take. Since February 2020, about 524,000 healthcare workers have left the field. Unfortunately, the country faced a physician shortage long before COVID-19. While the pandemic amplified the need for a hobby to assuage anxiety and burnout, few look at the reasons why someone chooses to knit over kayak or read over run. Dr. Lazarus hypothesizes that a physician’s choices in hobbies and practice areas are often guided by the same personality traits and skills.
(MedPage Today, November 9, 2021)
4. EHRs May Present Barriers to Health Equity Research for Deaf Patients
The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) reports that 250,000-500,000 people are deaf and hard-of-hearing signed language users. Unfortunately, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network Common Data Model has a problematic classification. American Sign Language (ASL) is listed as an “other” language, which can lead to misclassification in health systems and limit access to future health services for patients who communicate in ASL.
(HealthcareIT News, November 9, 2021
5. The Problems That Keep 6 Hospital Leaders Up at Night
Six prominent healthcare leaders shine a light on several current healthcare inequities that impact patients and their social determinants of health. For example, one contributor longs to “help every person in our country receive the quality, culturally sensitive care and social services they need in a way that’s affordable and easy to navigate.” Though a quick read, this piece thoughtfully and candidly highlights critical issues that impact the delivery of care in our country.
(Becker’s Hospital Review, November 16, 2021)
6. Patients Get Stranded Out of Network as Insurer-Hospital Contract Talks Fall Apart
Locally and nationally, hospital systems and health insurers are severing their contracts. Insurers hope to lower payment rates to medical providers, but these contract negotiations are costly to patients. The terminations force tens of thousands to decide whether to pay astronomical out-of-pocket costs or to abandon their trusted physician in favor of an in-network doctor.
Open enrollment complicates matters further. This time of year, employers have often already selected their insurance provider and consumers are in the process of choosing their health plan. But insurer disputes reign supreme, including notable contract terminations such as UnitedHealthcare and Anthem.
(Kaiser Health News, November 17, 2021)
7. Surprise Medical Billing Average $750 to $2,600, New Federal Report Says
Insurance is supposed to protect patients from high out-of-pocket costs, right? Not the case. About 18% of emergency room visits by patients with employer coverage yielded out-of-network charges; this percentage swings from a low of 3% in Minnesota to a high of 38% in Texas. These statistics counter the country’s move to achieve price transparency in healthcare.
The No Surprises Act, effective January 1, 2022, aims to protect patients with health coverage from surprise medical billing and reduce healthcare costs. This announcement follows the new federal Ground Ambulance and Patient Billing (GAPB) Advisory Committee. GAPB exists to shield patients from outrageous charges and balance billing from ambulance services.
These two recent implementations were created to address gaps in state policies and protect patients across the United States against surprise medical billing.
(Healthcare Finance, November 23, 2021)
8. How to End the Misinformation Pandemic
COVID-19 is not the only pandemic we have been facing. Despite the incredible achievements of science and medicine — COVID-19 vaccines — we are now in the throes of a misinformation pandemic. Although vaccine hesitancy is a complicated subject, health issues have unfortunately become political fodder.
Dr. Foxman, an immunologist, recognizes the importance of listening and engaging with patients. In addition to a fervent exploration of science and medicine, Dr. Foxman urges the medical community to teach and innovate effective communication strategies. Rigorously studied empathy is the answer to solving the misinformation pandemic.
(KevinMD, November 24, 2021