• 2017 and MACRA are on the way, but now you can pick your pace

    Tags: MACRA, CMS, medicare, Quality Payment Program

    By Perdita Henry

    The march from volume-to-value by way of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 has been steady, and as we prepare to meet 2017, anxiety about the new Quality Payment Program has left many wondering what hurdles they will have to face.

    CMS recently announced the Pick Your Pace Program, specifically designed to assist medical providers at different readiness levels as they prepare for MACRA. The announcement was a welcomed development by AAFP Board Chair Robert Wergin, MD, who took it as a sign that CMS not only took into account AAFP’s comment letter in reference to MACRA but also realized physician success in implementing the new payment program benefits everyone in the health care community.

  • National Immunization Awareness Month, week four: Making the most of adolescence

    By Perdita Henry

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is wrapping up the final week of National Immunization Awareness Month by focusing on pre-teens and teens. Once your young patients reach the age of 11, it’s recommended that they receive Tdap, HPV, meningococcal vaccines and catch up on any immunizations they may have missed. ImmTrac is a convenient tool that allows parents to keep track of vaccination schedules as their children age. Also many of your pre-teen and teen patients may be eligible to participate in the Texas Vaccines for Children Program, which provides low-cost vaccines for children from birth through age 18.

    If you are looking for additional support in the vaccination conversation with caretakers, visit ImmunizeTexasOrderForm.com. There you will find the Love Them & Protect Them ImmTrac brochure, the childhood immunization schedule, the Halt HPV brochure, and much more.

  • National Immunization Awareness Month, week three: Keeping little ones safe

    Tags: NIAM, immunizations, DSHS

    By Perdita Henry

    Texas Department of State Health Services is kicking off week three of National Immunization Awareness Month by focusing on infants and children through age six. Did you know that there’s a website that can assist the busy parents of your littlest patients keep track of immunization schedules? ImmTrac is an online portal that allows parents to register and keep track of their child’s vaccination schedule. Safe and secure, ImmTrac is a convenient tool that can help new parents make sure they are keeping their little ones safe.

    DSHS also notes that many of your tiny patients may be eligible for Texas Vaccines for Children Program which aims to ensure that all families have the tools to protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

  • National Immunization Awareness Month, week two: Keep mama and baby safe during pregnancy

    Tags: NIAM, immunizations, DSHS

    By Perdita Henry

    August is National Immunization Awareness Month and this week’s focus is on immunizations that keep pregnant women and babies healthy across the state. The Texas Department of State Health Services offers resources to help you educate your patients on the importance of vaccines during pregnancy. The Pertussis Cocooning brochure, Protect Two from the Flu brochure, and the ImmTrac newborn consent are just a few of the documents currently available for download at ImmunizeTexasOrderForm.com.

    If you are planning an NIAM activity or event and would like to have it featured on the Regional Events and Activities map, fill out the NIAM activity form and email it to Linc Allen, Coalitions and Partnerships Coordinator at linc.allen@dshs.state.tx.us.

  • A Texas-sized problem: Texas has among highest rate of hepatitis C, lowest HPV vaccination numbers in the U.S.

    Tags: HPV, immunizations, hepatitis B

    Untitled Document

    By Carolyn Aldigé and Erich M. Sturgis, MD, MPH

    As a family physician, your patients rely on you — not just for annual check-ups, diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatments, but also to inform them of what they need to know to enjoy long, healthy lives. But a growing number of patients say they are not getting much-needed guidance from their primary care physicians on a major public health problem: certain viruses that can lead to cancer.

  • Zika threat: CDC, DSHS have up-to-date resources for you

    By Perdita Henry


    The concern over Zika is increasing at a steady pace as the summer continues. Every day news reports are alerting the public to another person being diagnosed with a virus that many have never heard of. The Texas Department of State and Health Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention want to make sure that physicians, and the public, have everything they need to stay up to date on the latest information regarding Zika.

  • What should you know about Medicare's new quality payment program?

    Tags: Quality improvement program, medicare, TMF, APMs, MIPS, QRUR, CMS, PQRS

    By Suzie Buhr, BSN, RN, CPHQ
    Quality Improvement Consultant for TMF Health Quality Institute


    Just when your physician practice successfully participated in the Physician Quality Reporting System or achieved Meaningful Use with your electronic health record, along comes a new payment program from the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services. Beginning next year, your practice will be evaluated for the data you report in 2017, which will affect payments in 2019. The good news is by participating in PQRS and meaningful use now, you are moving in the right direction. The work you are doing for those programs will help you transition to participating in either the Merit-based Incentive Payment System or the Alternative Payment Model program. What do you need to know now to prepare for the transition?

  • Need a cure for the preclinical med school summertime blues? Do a family medicine preceptorship

    Tags: preceptorship, medical student, medical school

    By Herbert Rosenbaum


    By the end of my first year of medical school and destined for my “last summer ever,” I left my rigorous preclinical curriculum with an unsettling combination of exhaustion and frustration. I came to medical school to help the sick, not sit in some stuffy lecture hall, spend innumerable hours meticulously studying complicated biomolecular pathways, or learn about the zebras among zebra diagnoses. Despite my excitement at the beginning of medical school, the sobering realization of the academic and impersonal nature of preclinical years disturbed me immensely. I felt my zeal slowly seeping away. And, despite the strong push for students to pursue research activities during that precious summer, I knew neither pipetting for hours nor endless analysis of chart-reviewed data could ever recharge me.

  • HHSC seeks physicians for new state advisory committees

    Tags: advisory committee, medicaid, HHSC, DSHS

    Last year the Legislature made its regular adjustments to the list of advisory committees that report to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of State Health Services. These committees play important roles in bringing fresh perspectives to the agencies and family doctors who have served on them in the past have had the chance to influence state programs to benefit patients.

    The full list of advisory committees with available seats can be found on the HHSC website, but two committees are of particular interest to the Academy. The new Value-Based Payment and Quality Improvement Committee is a combination of the previous Medicaid/CHIP Quality-Based Payment Advisory Committee and the Texas Institute for Healthcare Quality. Its purpose is to provide a forum to promote public-private, multi-stakeholder collaboration in support of quality improvement and value-based payment initiatives for Medicaid and other health services.

    The Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Advisory Committee will advise HHSC on the operation of Medicaid managed care, including program design and benefits, concerns about the system from consumers and providers, efficiency and quality of services, contract requirements, network adequacy, trends in claims processing, and other issues. The agency is looking for primary care physicians and has a specific directive to include rural providers.

  • All you need to know to be ready for the C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session

    Tags: c. frank webber lectureship

    If you're headed to Austin this week to join your friends and colleagues at the 2016 C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session, we've got a great lineup of CME scheduled for you and lots of opportunities to network and make new connections. Here is a set of essential info you'll need to be prepared for a wonderful experience. Any further questions? Feel free to comment below or give us a call at (512) 329-866 or and email at tafp@tafp.org.

    Registration Hours

    • Thursday, April 14 | 12 - 7 p.m.
    • Friday, April 15 | 6 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    • Saturday, April 16 | 7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

    C. Frank Webber Lectureship registration will be located on the main floor in the hotel lobby. The CME breakfast lecture begins at 7 a.m. on Friday. On Thursday, registration for the SAM Group Study Workshop on Mental Health in the Community starts at 12:30 p.m. and the SAM begins at 1 p.m. On Saturday, registration for the SAM Group Study Workshop on Preventive Care starts at 7:30 a.m. and the SAM begins at 8 a.m.