News in Brief: Week of July 14-18

July 20, 2014 07:26 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Preconception, Interconception Care Toolkit Now Available

Earlier this month, the Preconception Health and Healthcare Initiative launched its National Preconception/Interconception Care Clinical Toolkit( The toolkit, which may be accessed from the initiative's Before, Between & Beyond Pregnancy website is intended to help primary care health professionals better prepare women for pregnancy.

[News in Brief]

Based on a woman's desire for and likelihood of pregnancy in the next year, the toolkit offers specific clinical recommendations for assessing and addressing 10 components of routine primary care, such as family planning guidance, nutrition, infectious diseases and immunizations, chronic diseases, and medication use. For each of these components, the toolkit provides background information, clinical guidance and tools, patient resources, and references.

Washington Is Active on Opioids Issue

The federal government continues to explore multiple avenues with the goal of combating the nation's opioid abuse crisis.

  • On June 19, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) convened a summit( to discuss new approaches to addressing the recent uptick in heroin and prescription drug abuse and identifying ways to combat the problem.
  • On June 23, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to CMS( asking the agency to explain what it plans to do to address the impact of patient surveys on improper prescribing of opioid pain relievers.
  • On July 9, the ONDCP unveiled its latest update to President Obama's 2014 National Drug Control Strategy(, which includes, among other provisions, a proposal for a continuing education mandate.

USPSTF Publishes Preventive Care Guide

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2014(, which aims to help primary care clinicians and patients decide what preventive services are appropriate for each patient's needs.

The 2014 guide, which includes all of the USPSTF's evidence-based clinical recommendations issued since 2004, can be used as a teaching tool for new clinicians as they learn about clinical preventive care. Included in the publication are recommendations on screening, counseling, and preventive medication topics, as well as clinical recommendations for each topic from breastfeeding and glaucoma in adults to iron deficiency and tobacco use among children. Later this summer, the task force will release an electronic version of the guide.

ONC Launches Challenge to Improve Hypertension

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is challenging physicians to help improve hypertension rates in the United States by submitting details about the health IT tools they use -- often in conjunction with electronic health record (EHR) systems -- to improve patient care.

According to a July 7 press release(, the ONC initiative, dubbed the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge, represents a partnership with the nationally known Million Hearts campaign that was created with the goal of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Organizers of the challenge want to find the best examples of clinical support tools physicians use successfully and share those best practices with other physicians and health care professionals nationwide. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 6; winners will be announced on Oct. 28.

CMS Announces Second Round of Grants for Innovative Care

CMS is awarding( a second round of Health Care Innovation Awards to support public and private organizations in four areas that are expected to transform the delivery of health care and improve patient outcomes.

A total of 39 awards will be distributed in 27 states. The CMS website provides an interactive map highlighting initiatives in every state.

The areas of focus for the latest round include:

  • efforts to reduce Medicare, Medicaid, and/or Children's Health Insurance Program costs in outpatient or post-acute settings;
  • improving care for patients with specialized needs;
  • testing approaches that transform financial and clinical models; and
  • supporting initiatives that improve population health by engaging beneficiaries through prevention, wellness and comprehensive care.

The prospective awards range in value from $2 million to $23.8 million over a three-year period. Each project will be evaluated for measurable improvements in quality of care and savings generated.

AAFP Center for Global Health Initiatives Seeks Advisory Board Members

The AAFP Center for Global Health Initiatives (CGHI) is seeking applicants to join its advisory board; applications are now being accepted online.

CGHI advisory board members are involved in:

  • designing and planning AAFP global health initiatives,
  • planning and implementing AAFP educational and networking activities related to global health, and
  • mentoring medical students, residents and new physicians interested in global health.

Applicants must be AAFP active members. Application forms should be downloaded, completed and submitted online by Aug. 11.