eNews August 4, 2020

The latest news affecting you and your customers… from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

How is COVID-19 affecting your business, your people, your customers? IMDA is a membership organization, and in times like these, we can all use some camaraderie. If you have a COVID story to share, advice to offer, or a warning to sound, send it to Mark Thill, IMDA’s communications director, at mdthill1913@gmail.com, with the subject line “IMDA COVID story.” We’ll compile them and send them back out to you.

Virtual patient visits zoom during pandemic

Telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic went through the roof, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Shortly after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) was declared on Jan. 27, with stay-at-home orders in place and warnings on the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increasing with age, Medicare FFS in-person visits for primary care fell precipitously. In April, nearly half (43.5%) of Medicare primary care visits were provided through telehealth compared with less than one percent (0.1%) in February. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that before the PHE, only 14,000 beneficiaries received a telehealth service in a week, but between mid-March and early July, over 10.1 million beneficiaries received a telehealth service.

Healthcare workers: At risk any way you look at it

Even with adequate gloves, gowns and face masks, healthcare workers still had 3.4 times the risk of contracting the coronavirus compared to the general population, according to a study from King’s College London, reported CNN. In addition, African American, Latino and other minority care providers were five times more likely to contract COVID-19 than their White counterparts. A little over 20 percent of front-line healthcare workers reported at least one symptom associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with 14.4 percent of the general population, the researchers wrote. Fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and hoarse voice were especially frequent.

All-in at ProMedica

Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica was able to standardize coronavirus care across the health system’s broad collection of metropolitan hospitals, community hospitals, and critical access hospitals, Chief Medical Information Officer Brian Miller, M.D., said during a web exchange sponsored by HealthLeaders. “To scale up standardization, we created a virtual clinical command center,” he said. “On a 24/7 basis, we had critical care doctors who were connected to the COVID-19 ICUs across our health system to provide consultation for all the clinicians in those different settings. We also got our clinicians to buy into that process.”

Health systems and specialists: Get it together

COVID-19 has demonstrated that health systems need to revisit their strategies to align with specialists, according to Premier Inc. One reason: Care is moving rapidly to the outpatient setting, shifting relationships and referral dynamics. During the initial COVID-19 surge, physicians and hospitals experienced extreme financial distress, and the growth in federal deficits related to COVID-19 will likely mean payment cuts for years to come – cuts that are most likely to affect physicians and hospitals dependent on the Fee-For-Service payment system. More than ever, providers will need to be strategic about reducing expenses, managing productivity and capacity, and monitoring margin to identify financial inefficiencies.