• Strength in numbers

    Tags: gupta, president's letter, medicare, accountable care organization

    An adaptation of the 2015-2016 incoming president’s address

    By Ajay Gupta, MD
    TAFP President, 2015-2016

    Greetings colleagues. I am humbled and honored to serve as president of this extraordinary Academy and I want to thank all of those leaders and physicians who have mentored me and guided me along the way as well as my wonderful family for their steadfast support.

    I became involved in the Texas Academy in my second year of practice because it equipped me with the tools to make my practice better. As you know, TAFP provides some of the best CME available and is produced for family physicians by family physicians. The Academy has helped me maintain board certification, which as you all are aware is an important process and not easy to do. The Academy also provides a range of practice support services to help my practice be more efficient. At our statewide meetings I get the chance to network with other family physicians to hear about the latest trends in health care delivery and payment—what’s working and what’s not working.

  • Accepting the maybe

    Tags: perspective, hurley

    By Janet Hurley, MD

    In my leadership duties for the Texas Academy of Family Physicians and within my personal job as family physician and operational chief of primary care for Trinity Mother Frances Health System, I continue to see pockets of skepticism, frustration, and fear among my primary care physician colleagues. In some of my most difficult assignments, I have felt that the greatest barrier occurs when some physicians go straight to the negative with their thoughts as we begin discussions.

    Our specialty is rife with physicians that go straight to the negative. When we consider the high rates of physician burnout in our country we begin to understand why this is true. Primary care physicians have felt overworked and underpaid for quite some time. The current fee-for-service payment system has created inefficient patient management practices that prevent care for simple conditions over the phone, lead to unnecessary follow-up appointments, and encourage physicians to pack more patients into their clinic day to generate volume. Transitioning these practices to a value-based payment world is truly a challenge. 

  • Blue Button makes finding Medicaid patient records simple

    Tags: medicaid

    Medicaid providers can now find their patients’ medical histories on YourTexasBenefitsCard.com. Medicaid Eligibility and Health Information Services added the Blue Button to the site in September.

    Once a provider or office staff receives a client’s consent, they can log in to the site and click on the Blue Button to see and download the client’s health information. The information can then be saved as a Portable Document Format document, a Clinical Document Architecture data file, or a simple text file. Once saved, it can be imported into the provider's health management tool.

    The YourTexasBenefitsCard Blue Button is assembled from client data found in the current database and claims data stored in the Medicaid Claims Administrator System. It generates easily accessible patient records on the website for providers to download, import, or print.

  • Represent Texas at AAFP’s NCCL and ACLF conferences

    Tags: delegate, aafp, aclf, nccl, leadership, scholarship, ncsc, alf, special constituents

    Funded delegate spots and scholarships available for NCCL and ACLF

    Each year, AAFP holds the National Conference of Constituency Leaders and Annual Chapter Leader Forum together in Kansas City, Missouri. NCCL representatives and ACLF attendees from across the nation gather to discuss various issues, suggest policies and programs to AAFP, and receive leadership training. This year’s conferences will be held May 5-7 and TAFP is looking for members to serve on the delegation or apply for scholarships to attend.

    TAFP opportunities for NCCL

  • Notes for Annual Session & Primary Care Summit attendees

    Tags: annual session, annual session and primary care summit, primary care summit, business meetings, cme, self assessment module

    posted 11.10.15

    Thank you for registering for TAFP’s 2015 Annual Session & Primary Care Summit. We look forward to seeing you later this week at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Below is some information about the conference. If you have any questions or concerns, please call (512) 329-8666 or email tafp@tafp.org.

    TAFP Registration Desk Location and Hours
    Wednesday, Nov. 11 | 12 - 6 p.m. | Waterway Ballroom Foyer
    Thursday, Nov. 12 | 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. | Waterway Ballroom Foyer | 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. | Town Center Foyer
    Friday, Nov. 13 | 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Town Center Foyer
    Saturday, Nov. 14 | 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Town Center Foyer
    Sunday, Nov. 15 | 6:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Town Center Foyer

  • Why I precept medical students

    Tags: billings, perspective, preceptorship, medical student, rural medicine, rural, rural physician

    By Adrian N. Billings, MD, PhD, FAAFP

    Why do I precept medical students? Luckily, I ask myself this question less and less frequently because I enjoy having these junior colleagues with me, especially at 2 a.m. while delivering babies. However, I recently explored this question with some reflection on my past seven years of precepting around 100 medical students and 20 resident physicians in my practice. 

    Unequivocally, the answer to the preceding question is that I precept medical students because my patients receive better care if I have a medical student working with me. It does not matter how fresh a medical student is into clinical training, two sets of eyes and two sets of brains examining and thinking about a patient’s problem are better than my own brain by itself. I have had preclinical students consider and make diagnoses that I have not been able to. Even if the students don’t make the correct diagnosis and they hear zebra hoofbeats instead of horse hoofbeats, this mental task causes me to consider a broader and more thorough differential diagnosis with their valuable input. I consider it an honor and privilege to be entrusted by medical schools with these young student physicians.

  • Time to step up to the plate

    Tags: ragle, president's letter

    By Dale Ragle, MD
    TAFP President, 2014-2015

    This will be my final letter to you as TAFP president. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you and our outstanding organization.

    This is an exciting and challenging time for family medicine. Health care reform and the sustainable growth rate repeal are expanding the rolls of the insured and will transition us from a volume-based payment system to a quality-based system over the next several years. Some analysts are concerned that increasing the number of insured may strain our health care system in the absence of increasing the physician workforce. While increasing the insurance rolls will generally increase access to care in the younger population, the resultant strain on our health care system could make it more difficult for certain vulnerable populations, such as elderly patients already on Medicare, to access the health system. This effect could be magnified in our state, which has about a 20 percent uninsured rate, unfortunately the highest in the nation.

  • Doctors report insurers are auditing billing procedures for services provided by NPs, PAs

    Tags: insurance, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, billing, coding, compliance, reiner

    Physicians should examine insurer contracts, provider policy and procedure manuals to ensure compliance

    If you employ nurse practitioners or physician assistants, you should make sure you’re complying with each payer’s protocols when billing for services provided by nonphysicians. TAFP has recently heard from members who thought they were billing properly but have found themselves under investigation by payers. If these practices are found to be out of compliance, they may owe payers substantial refunds.

    Many payers pay reduced fees for services provided by NPs and PAs but the rules and billing procedures doctors should follow when filing claims differ from payer to payer. For instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas pays 15 percent less for services provided by NPs or PAs than they would for services provided by the supervising physician. The insurer requires that practices include a “Modifier SA” when filing claims to indicate that a service was performed by an NP or a PA.

  • TWHC wins funding for preventive health care in the 84th Texas Legislature

    Tags: texas women's healthcare coalition, preventive care, women's health, texas family planning, texas women's health program, expanded primary health care program, nelson, davis, howard, realini, 84th, legislature

    By Anna Chatillon
    Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition

    In the midst of the chaos and inevitable drama of the 84th Texas Legislature, we risk overlooking one piece of news with the potential to change thousands of lives for the better. Funding for women’s preventive health care services, such as annual check-ups and contraceptive care, was increased by nearly $50 million in the state budget for the coming biennium.

    In 2011, draconian budget cuts to Texas’ Family Planning program devastated the women’s health care safety net. When the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, a collaboration of 60 member organizations led by TAFP and others, was formed in 2012, its aim was to restore that funding. The Coalition’s successful advocacy restored the funding in 2013 through the Texas Women’s Health Program and the Expanded Primary Health Care program, in addition to the Family Planning program.

  • Public health efforts pay off with legislative wins in the 84th Texas Legislature

    Tags: texas public health coalition, 84th, legislature, tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaccination, immunization, cancer, hinojosa, ebola, sheffield, abbott, department of state health services, texas emergency medical task force, craddick, health and human services commission

    By Joey Berlin
    Texas Medicine

    The Texas Public Health Coalition and diligent physicians earned significant victories during the 84th Texas Legislature in their drive to reduce tobacco and electronic cigarette use.

    Lawmakers also provided the Texas Department of State Health Services with a likely bump in chronic disease prevention funding, and an effort to keep children’s immunization records in the state registry through their early adult years made its way into law.