News in Brief: Week of April 1-5

April 03, 2013 05:05 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

New Online Tool Supports Chronic Disease Management

CMS recently announced the launch of an online tool described as a "Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboard" that aims to improve the health of patients with chronic diseases by identifying opportunities to improve care. The dashboard was created with physicians, researchers, health policymakers and public health professionals in mind.

According to a March 28 press release from CMS(, the dashboard helps users find and use chronic disease data already collected and stored by CMS. The agency said nearly 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries suffer from multiple chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, and that percentage is certain to rise as the U.S. population ages.

Free Webinars Help Physicians Earn Incentives, Avoid Penalties

CMS is offering a series of free webinars -- each with similar content -- focused on Medicare's 2013 incentive programs. Specifically, webinar presenters will discuss actions physicians need to take in 2013 to earn incentives and avoid penalties associated with CMS' Physician Quality Reporting System, the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record meaningful use incentive program, and Medicare's electronic-prescribing incentive program.

A variety of dates and times are available. All times indicated reflect Central Daylight Time. Registration closes one hour prior to start time for the following webinars:

NSF Offers Online Sleep Disorders Primer for Primary Care Physicians

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has released a free online resource( for family physicians and other health professionals focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

The primer -- an updated online version of the book The Sleep Disorders -- serves as a practical introduction to sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disruption, parasomnia, sleep-related movement disorders and other issues. It can be accessed via computer or on portable devices, such as the iPad or any of several e-book readers.

Fee-For-Service Payment Continues to Dominate in Private Sector, Study Finds

Fee-for-service remains the predominant payment system in the commercially insured market, accounting for nearly 90 percent of payments made to physicians and hospitals in the private sector, according to data released by the Catalyst for Payment Reform.

The data, based on a National Scorecard on Payment Reform(, found that only 11 percent of payments made to physicians and hospitals in the private sector were value-oriented, meaning that they were tied to health care outcomes or how well care was managed and delivered by either physicians or hospitals. Within that 11 percent of value-based payments, 43 percent of the payments gave physicians and other providers financial incentives by offering a potential bonus or added payment to support high-quality care, according to the scorecard. This could include fee-for-service with a shared-savings component.

The other 57 percent of value-based payments were based on bundled payments and other types of payment modalities that put physicians and other providers at financial risk for their performance if they failed to meet certain quality and cost goals.

USPSTF Videos Feature Look Inside Process

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released two short videos about the role it plays in preventive medicine, as well as its process for developing evidence-based recommendations.

The "USPSTF Overview(" video explains the role of the USPSTF and how it works to improve preventive health care for all Americans. USPSTF Chair Virginia Moyer, M.D., and other task force members, including American Family Physician Deputy Editor Mark Ebell, M.D., M.S., discuss how the USPSTF can help clinicians and patients decide whether a preventive service is right for a patient's needs.

The "USPSTF Recommendation Process(" video explains the recommendation development process, featuring Ebell and others. USPSTF members discuss creating a research plan and compiling an evidence report, as well as developing and disseminating a recommendation. The video also talks about the importance of public input in the development of recommendations.

Webinars Detail 'What, Why and How' of Genetic Medicine in Primary Care

The Genetics in Primary Care Institute (GPCI) is offering a webinar series( on genetic medicine in primary care for family physicians and other health professionals. The 30-minute webinars cover a range of topics, with the overriding goal of increasing "awareness and education regarding the provision of genetic medicine in primary care settings through an introduction to the topic and a few case examples showcasing how the topic can be integrated into everyday practice."

Topics include

  • recognizing how advances in genetics and genomics can contribute to pediatric primary care;
  • demonstrating how to properly collect and interpret a meaningful family history using the pedigree and other tools;
  • describing the different types of genetic testing while reviewing advances in testing technology;
  • the role of primary care health professionals in medical genetics consultations; and
  • improving genetic services delivered by primary care physicians.

In addition to the current webinars being offered, GPCI indicated it soon will offer a "Genetics in Your Practice" series.

Study Shows Benefits of Regular Source of Physician Care in Managing Diabetes

Patients with diabetes are more likely to receive appropriate care for their condition when they are seen by their regular primary care physician instead of a covering physician or a midlevel provider, according to a recent study( (abstract) in Diabetes Care.

The study was based on 584,587 encounters for 27,225 patients with diabetes who had elevated hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure and/or LDL cholesterol levels. The study tracked the patients' care during a two-year period and found that patients' regular primary care physicians were more likely to provide medication intensification and lifestyle counseling. For example, patients in the study had a 96 percent greater chance of receiving lifestyle coaching from their regular primary care physician than an attending physician and a 26 percent greater chance of receiving this type of counseling from their regular primary care physician than a midlevel provider.