NCMGMA News Sponsor

 

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Twice monthly, NCMGMA News will feature a sponsor on our site. Our sponsors are a vital part of our organization, enabling us to provide the high-level of products and services our members have come to enjoy from NCMGMA.

Our sponsor this period is Biz Technology Solutions.

Learn more about Biz Technology Solutions by viewing their ad on NCMGMA News and on our website. You can also visit their website here.

Special Open Door Forum on April 9th: CMS Hospital Without Walls

Thursday, April 9th
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

CMS invites you to a Special Open Door Forum: CMS Hospital Without Walls during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This Special Open Door Forum is open to everyone, if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov.

Dial-in Information:
1-888-455-1397
Participant passcode: 3535324
Please dial in 15 minutes ahead of time

You can access recordings of this call along with transcripts on the following link: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.

Physician Safety and Protection in the Outpatient Setting

By Asha Patel Shah, MD, FAAD
2020 Alliance sponsor feature article courtesy of MagMutual

Physicians are experiencing a growing incidence of workplace violence in the outpatient office setting. Workplace violence can take on many forms such as emotional, mental, verbal and physical harassment or abuse. This can even extend online in the form of cyber bullying and stalking. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 75 percent of nearly 25,000 annual assaults occurred in the healthcare/social service arena. In addition, workers in healthcare settings were four times more likely to be victims than workers in private industry.

We are generally silent on this issue and underreport violence because we subconsciously accept it as a part of the job. Patients who exhibit violence or abusive nature may have physical injury or mental incapacity that affects their ability to appropriately control their behavior, which can lead us to excuse an outburst because we are empathetic to their vulnerable situation. However, with the dramatic changes in medicine that include longer wait times, less quality time with the patient, higher co-pays and deductibles, shrinking pharmacy formularies and endless bureaucracy, the environment is ripe for increased and sometimes misplaced anger against the healthcare community. Keeping yourself and your office protected from violent situations will allow you to continue to serve patients without feeling burnout. Remember, most patients are very grateful for the care they receive.

Below are a few tips that can help keep everyone safe:

  1. Anticipation – One of the best ways to avoid a negative situation is to be aware it could occur. Teaching your staff to identify situations that could lead to a patient breakdown should be a priority. For example, communication between patient care staff and reception staff can keep waiting patients updated. Usually, if the patient’s long waiting time is acknowledged by staff with a polite apology and explanation, anger can be diffused.
  2. De-escalation Techniques – Likewise, de-escalation protocols can be used for specific patient encounters. For example, using a combination of verbal and non-verbal techniques to build rapport with an agitated patient can do wonders for all parties involved. Taking the time for active listening, reflective language and creating a calm environment usually do the trick. Also, having a patient support representative or office manager on site can help bridge the situation to an amicable agreement and allow the physician to keep on track with patient care.
  3. Environmental Design – Patient care layout is key. First, empower your reception staff as the gatekeepers to the patient care area. There should be a physical distinction between the waiting area and the path towards patient rooms, preferably a locked door that can be operated electronically via office ID tag or remotely via button. Patients or visitors should only be allowed to enter the patient care area under direct supervision of office staff.
  4. Video Surveillance Systems – Another idea is to consider an external and internal continuous video surveillance system. Important areas to monitor are reception desks, nurses’ stations, common patient thoroughfares and all entrances/exits to the building. Of course, abide by states laws regarding audio/video surveillance in patient settings, such as no surveillance in sensitive areas where undressing occurs and posting notification signs in public areas notifying visitors that video surveillance is occurring.
  5. Emergency Alert Plans – A variety of situational awareness alert systems can be established for both physician and staff. Set up a non-threatening code word or hand signal that only your staff knows that can be used to signal for help in the presence of an unstable situation. For example, asking staff to call for “Dr. Grey” can be a code for “privately call 911.” If financially viable, carrying a wireless panic button or having one installed in each patient care room would also be effective. It is also important to have a medical staff member assist as a patient chaperone and witness, however a code word or panic button can serve as an alternative in an emergency situation.
  6. Situational Awareness of Weapons – The reality is weapons can enter the office setting both legally and illegally. Having a weapons policy posted at the patient entrance should be strongly considered and consistent with state law to protect yourself, your staff and your patients. The other reality is the possibility of an armed intruder or active shooter. Every medical setting needs to be prepared and alert. At minimum, an emergency plan and establishing a relationship with the local police department is a must.
  7. Practice Drills – With on-site staff, help keep everyone informed and prepared if the worst-case scenario were to unfold. Professional trainers are also available to serve as mentors to combat these unique but increasingly common situations. The recent Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act is a step in the right direction but more work is yet to be done for physicians in the outpatient setting.

The following links offer additional information on workplace violence in the healthcare setting:

How to Reduce Contamination in Patient Rooms

2020 Alliance sponsor feature article courtesy of HandCraft Services

Today’s alarming virus outbreaks, the prevalence of ​antibiotic resistance and ​hospital-acquired infections​ call for changes in the way that we deal with contamination in our medical facilities. Even simple disinfecting procedures that have been in place for so long have proven inadequate in fully curtailing the problem. In some cases, they have even been found to be ​contributing to the problem​.

Maintaining patient room hygiene is more important now than ever. Here are some changes you can adopt in your patient room management routine to help reduce contamination:

1. Identify hotspots inside patient rooms.
Certain areas within a patient room harbor more bacteria than others. These are the areas that get frequently touched, are often neglected in the cleanup and disinfecting process and/or get exposed to bodily fluids. Areas that need more focused and frequent cleanup include:

  • Handrails
  • Bedside Chairs and Tables
  • Beds
  • Linens

2. Encourage hand hygiene.
The hands are some of the dirtiest parts of the body. They can ​contain and sustain an ecosystem of germs, bacteria and viruses,​ including the dreaded MRSA as well as the more common ones that cause diarrhea and hand-foot-mouth disease.

Because people are always using their hands, germs get passed along easily. This makes hand washing the single most effective deterrent against most infections and contamination, especially in healthcare settings like patient rooms.

Encourage frequent hand hygiene inside the rooms by providing easy access to hand soap and warm water as well as alcohol-based sanitizer. Disinfect thoroughly and frequently, particularly in the areas that get touched by multiple hands throughout the day like door knobs and light switches.

3. Your floors matter more than you think.
Floors are some of the dirtiest surfaces anywhere, especially in medical facilities. This makes floor cleanliness even more crucial because of the presence of ill and vulnerable people. Because the majority of contaminants on the floor come from tracked-in dirt from shoes, the ​right type of floor mats might help limit the debris dragged inside the rooms. When it comes to floor cleaning, your choice of cleaning tools matters just as much as your disinfecting solutions.

Microfiber ​mops​, for instance, have been proven ​more effective​ in eliminating bacteria than their cotton counterparts. The laundering of floor mops is also an essential step in reducing contamination in patient rooms, as these mops eventually get contaminated with whatever pathogens they’ve picked up off of the floors.

Utilizing a ​professional mop service​ is one way to ensure not just reliable, expert cleaning for these delicate items but also the integrity of the mops.

4. Rethink your laundry procedures.
Linens like bed spreads, blankets and towels come into direct contact with ill patients and are often exposed to bodily fluid in the process. Poor handling before, during and after use as well as at any stage of the laundry procedure can contribute to contamination.

Crucial to these procedures are the handling and transporting of used linens as well as the transportation and storage of clean ones. Find a ​medical linen service provider​ that can help you with cleaning, maintaining, storing and handling your soiled linens.

5. Secure your medical apparel.
Studies show that dangerous bacteria can end up on ​scrub suits​ and ​white coats​. And they can be contaminated within hospital settings as much as they can in public. This makes allowing medical personnel to take them home for laundering dangerous to both the public and patients.

Medical apparel must be treated with as much care and attention as hospital-use linens when it comes to washing, handling and storage so that they don’t become inadvertent culprits in the contamination of patient rooms.

Help is Within Reach with HandCraft!
Reach out to HandCraft Linen and Uniform Specialists today to learn more about how we can help you keep your patient rooms clean and safe. Call us at (888) 358-8671 to speak with a consultant and learn more about our services and products!

Warning Signs of a Data Breach

2020 Alliance sponsor feature article courtesy of Apex Technology

In the modern economy, data breaches are no longer the stuff of spy movies and science fiction thriller novels. They’re common place, and in 2019, data breaches cost businesses an average of $3.92 million – per incident! Can you afford a multi-million dollar payout to cover damages to your clients? Do you want to close your doors for good 6 months after the incident like 60% of all companies who fall victim to such attacks? Our team of IT specialists at Apex Technology want to help protect your organization from a costly data breach. Below we’ve compiled some indicators that your business might be at risk, followed by steps you can take internally before calling our team to learn more about how we’ve integrated cybersecurity measures into our managed IT services in order to help protect your brand.

Are You at Risk for a Data Breach?

With customer relationship management software being what it is today, and the growing reliance across industries on big data, there’s a strong likelihood that you gather and maintain a database of client data. This makes you a target for cybercriminals. Depending upon your operational standards, you might be leaving the door wide open for a breach. Let’s take a look at two elements of your operation that might be increasing your risk of an attack or breach.

  • Exploiting a Lack of Training and Enforcement
    Many of the tools used by hackers exploit a lack of training or discipline in the employees of their targets. Human error in technical configurations, phishing attacks enticing targets to click on malicious links, and other mistakes all leave your organization exposed. Risk mitigation training and enforcement is crucial to protecting your organization.
  • Failing to Meet Risk and Compliance Requirements
    Depending on the industry in which you operate, your management of client data is likely regulated by legal and regulatory requirements. Compliance can require certain data storage requirements, as well as standardized and documented data flows so the controls that are subsequently put into place are effective. Failing to adhere to compliance, or not understanding compliance requirements, could lead to costly breaches due to inadvertent mishandling of information.

Prevention Through Education and Inclusion in the Process

While these and other possible elements of your operation can be putting you at risk, there are a number of strategies you can employ to mitigate your risk internally. At the core of any strategy you might deploy, you must first make a plan to educate your employees as to access expectations, the importance of keeping work off of personal devices, best practices throughout their workday to avoid exposing sensitive data, and most importantly teaching them about the ways hackers might exploit their trust to infiltrate your systems. Once you’ve integrated education and awareness and involved your employees, it will be much easier to partner with a managed IT service provider who might make changes to routines and systems in order to improve internal protections.

Urgent Practice Data Survey – Week of April 6, 2020

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Urgent Practice Data Survey
An NCMGMA, NCMS and Curi Collaboration

Monday, April 6, 2020

NCMGMA, NCMS, and Curi are working together to gather vital practice information from administrators and clinicians across North Carolina relative to the COVID-19 crisis. To kick off this effort, we are sending a brief e-survey each week. We ask that you please complete this survey when you receive it in your inbox.

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW!

About the NCMGMA, NCMS and Curi Survey

Each week on Monday, the same set of questions will be sent to your inbox. The idea is to capture weekly snapshots of North Carolina’s healthcare practices as we move through the coronavirus pandemic. The information and data you share will be compiled and used anonymously to better understand the most acute and immediate needs, and to establish any trends to inform our policymakers on behalf of the physicians, PAs, practice administrators and the patients of North Carolina.

We know this is a stressful and uncertain time, but by taking less than 5 minutes each week to complete this survey, you are allowing us to better respond to and represent your needs. Please click the link above to take this short survey and help us work together to battle back against this healthcare crisis.

Join the Weekly Survey E-list
If you aren’t already on the e-list and would like to be added, please email the NCMGMA offices at info@ncmgm.org and we will put you on the list.

Thank you for your time and for your commitment to your communities. We’re in this together and are proud to support you and your practice through this tumultuous season.

– Your Colleagues at the NCMGMA, NCMS, and Curi

Regulatory Alert: New MGMA Resources on Federal Financial Assistance

Originally published by MGMA on April 3, 2020
Reprinted with permission by MGMA

MGMA Government Affairs developed two new resources to inform medical groups of available financial assistance opportunities set forth in the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The resources are organized by medical group size because the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are only available to businesses with 500 employees or less. Please note that financial lenders should start accepting applications for PPP loans today, although it has been reported that not all lenders are prepared. In the meantime, SBA has supplied a sample application form for applicants to understand what will be requested of them.

Resource for medical groups with less than 500 employees: The CARES Act allocated money to fund the PPP loans and EIDLs. Loans under the PPP can be forgiven if the employer keeps their employees on the payroll for eight weeks after the loan origination date. EIDL loans are available to businesses who have suffered substantial economic injury. Small businesses who have applied for EIDL loans can receive an advance of $10,000 (“emergency EIDL grants”) within three days after the SBA receives their application. Please review MGMA’s resource for more details on both programs.

Resource for medical groups of all sizes: CMS’s Accelerated and Advance Payment Program (APP) and funds distributed from the “Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund” are two available financial assistance options. The APP provides a quick mechanism for healthcare entities to obtain an accelerated cash flow, which is subject to repayment – funding through this mechanism can be accessed now. Little is known yet on how the $100 billion from the emergency fund will be distributed, but these funds are intended to reimburse eligible healthcare entities for healthcare related expenses and lost revenue stemming from COVID-19.

HIPAA Privacy and Coronavirus

2020 Alliance sponsor feature article courtesy of Total Medical Compliance

While preparing and treating patients that have or might have novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), it is important to remember your patient’s privacy rights. HIPAA permits the sharing of patient’s protected health information (PHI) for public health activities such as this without a patient authorization.

With whom and when can you share PHI for public health activities? Generally, PHI can be shared with:

  • entities that are permitted by law to collect and receive health information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease such as the CDC or a state or local health department,
  • organizations such as the American Red Cross,
  • others at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition if state law authorizes the covered entity to notify others as necessary to prevent or control the spread of the disease, and
  • others involved in the patient’s care such as family and friends. Providers should use their professional judgement here and obtain verbal consent from the patient, if possible.

PHI should not be shared with the media or others not involved in a patient’s care without the patient’s authorization.

The HIPAA minimum necessary standard still applies to the use and disclosure of PHI. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that entities may rely on representations from the CDC or other public health department that the PHI requested by them about all patients exposed to or suspected or confirmed to have novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the minimum necessary. In addition, a covered entity should continue to limit access to PHI to only those workforce members who need it to carry out their duties.