• Looking for a few good family doctors to help improve a quality measure

    Tags: Mathematica Policy Research, Shari Glickman

    By Shari Glickman, MSSW, PMP

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has contracted with Mathematica Policy Research to recruit provider practices to help test an electronic clinical quality measure, or eCQM. The measure title is “Documentation of a Health Care Partner for Patients with Dementia or Mild Cognitive Impairment.”

    The measure requires that a patient’s health care surrogate or partner’s contact information (email address and/or phone number) be documented in structured fields of the electronic health record or electronic medical record. Testing activities include practice staff — clinicians and practice managers — speaking with the Mathematica team about the practices’ workflows and the data elements they capture in their EHRs. We also ask practices to submit an extract of de-identified patient-level data from the EHR for analysis, including the data elements required for the eCQM, such as a health care surrogate or partner’s contact information. Finally, we ask practices to permit trained chart abstractors to review the data elements in a sample of patient charts.

  • Why MIPS-eligible clinicians need an EIDM account

    TMF Health Quality Institute


    The Enterprise Identity Management system enables health care providers to establish a single user ID to use across multiple CMS applications. Clinicians and applicable practice staff should have an EIDM account. This article will explain why clinicians who are eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System should have an account and how to open and maintain an account.

  • An emphatic plea for psychiatry support in our communities

    By Janet L. Hurley, MD

    It’s taken a while for me to be ready to write about this. It is challenging as a physician to have things go wrong with a patient—badly wrong. Such situations are a major cause of physician burnout and job dissatisfaction. Some years ago I had such an event, and the effect was harrowing.

    Suffice it to say we need more mental health resources in many Texas communities to provide needed services to patients and support to primary care physicians. As I speak to family physicians across the state, I learn the challenges my region experiences with insufficient mental health access are not unique. I am tired of patients being dismissed from mental health institutions back into the care of their primary care physician because there is no psychiatrist to see them for follow-up. I am tired of the insufficient payment structure that makes psychiatrists move to cash-only arrangements, limiting a patient’s ability to afford their care. I’m tired of having to treat refractory depression, advanced bipolar, and psychosis, simply because there are limited psychiatrists to do it. This simply needs to change.

  • Atlantic Health Partners offers low costs vaccines and support to TAFP members

    Tags: atlantic health partners, perdita henry, vaccines, TAFP

    By Perdita Henry

    TAFP often engages, supports, and partners with organizations whose missions and values align with our own. Atlantic Health Partners is one of those organizations, and they are dedicated to making sure busy practicing physicians have access to the vaccines needed to keep their patients healthy.

    They offer low prices on a comprehensive portfolio of immunizations and provide exemplary customer service.

  • Preparing for the business side of running a practice

    Tags: practice management, practice med, tafp

    By Perdita Henry

    TAFP recently launched the brand-new educational platform, Practice MEd, specifically designed to help residents learn the business side of running a practice.

    This new educational tool incorporates user-friendly, interactive multimedia learning, and allows users to learn at their own pace. Practice MEd can be used as a standalone learning tool for practice management education or as a supplement to current training. These modules also count toward the 100 hours of health system management training required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

  • The Texas Council on Family Violence needs your help

    Tags: Texas council on family violence, family violence prevention, domestic violence, identifying survivors, Rachel Voth Schrag, TAFP, perdita henry

    By Perdita Henry

    The Texas Council on Family Violence and associated researchers throughout the state are in the process of updating the Access to Safety, Justice, and Opportunity: A Blueprint for Domestic Violence Interventions in Texas, also known as the State Plan. The blueprint “serves as the core guidance document for determining and assessing underserved areas or populations as well as identifying and outlining any unmet needs for survivors of family violence.” It also serves as a funding map for both the Health and Human Service Commission Family Violence Program and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act fund and contains a detailed inventory of family violence programs across the state.

    Rachel Voth Schrag, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington and lead researcher working on the State Plan, reached out to TAFP to talk about the challenges her team faces when it comes to identifying family violence survivors and the crucial role survivor interviews play in their research.

  • Resident Voice: Why physician advocacy is important

    Tags: Leo Lopez, physician advocacy, 2017 Texas legislative session

    By Leo Lopez, III, MD

    During the 2017 Texas legislative session, I spent time at the State Capitol in Austin as a recipient of the TAFP Foundation James C. Martin, MD, Scholarship, appreciating the depth, scope, and importance of physician advocacy. In my time as a medical student and resident, I’ve watched health policy debates evolve. I’ve watched them triumph from inception to implementation. I’ve watched them fall in committee at the behest of a deluge of lobbying efforts and special interests.

    As these important issues revolving around clinical practice, graduate medical education, and access to health care are debated, the relative silence of the physician voice is impressive. While many outstanding physician leaders make selfless sacrifices to protect patient and physician interests, the gross physician influence in advocacy and health policy is severely impoverished.

  • Harris County Academy of Family Physicians hosts roundtable for medical students

    Tags: HCAFP, medical student roundtable, 2018

    By Jean Klewitz

    HCAFP met for their third annual medical student roundtable on Tuesday, March 6, to host an open discussion on family medicine. The mission of the discussion is to dispel myths about family medicine often heard by students in academia. Members welcomed 28 medical students for dinner at Houston’s Baba Yega restaurant. It was an evening of frank questions and enlightening conversation in which even salary amounts were openly discussed.

    HCAFP President, Lindsay Botsford, MD, MBA, kicked off the presentation by telling the students that the goal was to break down barriers and “meet people who are actually doing family medicine.” Botsford moderated the nine-physician panel, which included physicians in academics, solo practice, and group practice. With the variety of careers represented on the panel, Botsford encouraged students to reach out after the discussion if they wanted a personal connection with someone who is practicing in a way they envision for themselves. Unable to represent the whole gamut of family medicine on the panel, Botsford said, “That’s the beauty of family medicine… we have so much diversity in what we do that we just couldn’t even represent it all here tonight.”

  • The supportive infrastructure primary care needs to combat the opioid crisis

    Tags: Naloxone, CDC guidelines, Substance Use Disorder in Texas, Janet Hurley

    By Janet L. Hurley, MD

    Earlier this year, I had the privilege of representing Texas family physicians at a conference sponsored by Superior Health Plan called “Changing the Paradigm in the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Substance Use Disorder in Texas.” As a middle-aged primary care physician who grew up in the era of “pain is the fifth vital sign,” I was frustrated by some comments made by legislators and health care policymakers, many of whom are not primary care physicians and have no idea what it is like trying to apply new pain guidelines to patients who are suffering. It is time to empower primary care physicians with the tools needed to manage these patients humanely and safely.

    The patients we worry the most about, who have had childhood traumas and diffuse pain syndromes, often take combination drugs like benzodiazepines and opiates, and are some of the hardest to treat. We are told by new CDC guidelines that we should try to minimize treatment with these drugs, yet these patients often have intense psychosocial needs that our medical communities are not equipped to address. Experiments done in other areas where physicians made a firm stance against ongoing prescribing have sometimes led to higher overdose deaths from illicit drug use.

  • Courage on display at Community First Village


    By Larry Kravitz, MD

    Why write about courage in medicine now? Simply because we are witnessing an erosion of ethics, truth, science, and altruism in our society. Not that the world has become a vast Sodom and Gomorrah, but we are seeing more amplified abandonment of idealism in front of us daily, and I have found myself more and more challenged to find public leaders embracing selflessness. It is more tempting to abandon ideals when society doesn’t seem to value them anymore. So let us look back on an era where Washington, D.C. was once referred to as “Camelot” and idealism was the dream of the entire American realm, and let us decide together to still be courageous.

    The idea for John Kennedy’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of essays, “Profiles in Courage,” was perfect. The young Senator Kennedy prepares for a future of statesmanship and service by delving back to find beacons that could light his way forward in government.