News Category

The unabated epidemic of opioid and synthetic opioid addiction has moved President Trump to declare it a national public health emergency. It’s also moving occupational health providers, including some urgent care operators, to look at updating the drug screens they give as part of their pre-employment examinations. Tennessee Occupational Health, for one, reports that as much as 80% of positive drug tests they see show evidence of opiates. As recently as 5 years, ago, marijuana was the number-one source of positive screens. However, prescription pain medications are not included inRead More
A new predictive model from the University of Chicago indicates we should prepare for a flu season that’s “worse than average.” One important indicator in the model is the severity of flu in Australia, where the seasons are ahead of those in the U.S.; Australians just suffered through their worst flu season on record. The data underscore the importance of getting immunized early in the season—as in, now—especially for those at highest risk, such as healthcare professionals, older adults, pregnant women, the chronically ill, and young children. It should alsoRead More
Neither company has confirmed it, but The Wall Street Journal reports that CVS Health has offered to buy Aetna in a deal that could have vast implications in the retail health and insurance marketplaces. The combined company would have much stronger bargaining power when negotiating deals with health systems, payers, and pharmaceutical companies, than either company does alone. For starters, as the WSJ article points out, CVS’s pharmacy benefit management arm would see “a huge number” of new customers. It’s likely the retail stores would see a big uptick inRead More
Two major players in urgent care and occupational medicine are being joined together by their respective ownerships. Select Medical Holdings Corporation and Dignity Health have agreed on a definitive agreement to combine Concentra Group Holdings, LLC, an occupational medicine and urgent care service provider, with U.S. HealthWorks, Inc., which offers services in the same sectors. There is some geographical overlap, such as in the Milwaukee and Nashville markets, but locations are more complementary than they are redundant, and few facility closures are expected. While urgent care insiders expect the dealRead More
Despite the fact that pregnant women and infants are increased risk for severe, influenza-related illness, nearly half of women approaching childbirth fail to get a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, in a recently published study, the CDC also found that simply offering to give a pregnant woman a flu shot increased the rate of coverage from 56% to around 70%. The report is careful to distinguish making a recommendation (eg, “You should consider getting a flu shot”) from extending an offer (“We canRead More
Urgent care centers in hurricane-affected areas have probably gotten into the habit of looking for sudden respiratory ailments and signs of illness related to consumption of tainted water or food. However, the vast numbers of relief workers and volunteers who flocked to help residents affected by the recent storms are now returning home, where providers may not have such issues at the top of their minds. Recognizing that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory to remind clinicians to ask patients with certain symptoms whether they’veRead More
The ink is barely dry on the arrest warrant for a Florida man accused of practicing medicine without a license, but now another similar story has popped up in New Jersey. Unlike the Florida case, the accused was not the proprietor of the urgent care center where he worked but an employee. Law enforcement officials say he’s actually a former physician whose medical license was suspended in 2003 for aggravated drug possession. Authorities are confident enough that the owner of the urgent care center knew the truth that he’s alsoRead More
It’s common for patients complaining of fatigue, fever, stiff joints, and overall body aches and malaise to seek treatment in an urgent care center. Depending on the season and what examination reveals—a telltale bullseye rash, for example—the clinician might suspect Lyme disease and be inclined to suggest the patient see another provider for testing and treatment. Even if they’re able to test on site, the patient would have to wait several days for the results and probably see another provider for follow-up. However, a new point-of-care test could allow atRead More

Posted On October 25, 2017By JUCMIn Payers

An Update on MIPS Readiness

If you read this newsletter and JUCM, you know the Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) offers a few options in an attempt to encourage participation and allow providers, essentially, to customize their participation to suit their practice. That includes when they start participating, within some limits. And if you read any news sources at all, you know there are more than a few wrinkles in the rollout. With that in mind, here are a few highlights that may be most applicable to the urgent care clinician and operators: Both 90-dayRead More
Despite efforts to teach patients when they really need to go to the emergency room vs the urgent care center or other settings, TennCare reports that its members have continued to head straight to the ED for relatively minor complaints—to the tune of $87.9 million in fiscal year 2017. That’s an increase of $3 million over the previous year. Claims data released by the state show too many use the less convenient, costlier ED for nonemergencies. TennCare’s chief medical officer, Victor Wu, MD, MPH says this is a long-term problemRead More