Deal on SGR repeal and reform policy reached
The Medicare Sustainable Growth (SGR) formula was enacted by Congress as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) as a method to calculate annual updates to Medicare Part B physician payments. The formula limits growth in spending for physicians' services by linking updates to target rates of spending growth. When spending exceeds the targeted rate of growth, payments are automatically reduced across the board without regard to the quality or efficiency of care provided by an individual physician. The SGR formula is fundamentally flawed, requiring Congress to act on numerous occasions over the years to prevent scheduled cuts to physician payments.
On Feb. 6, leaders of the congressional committees with jurisdiction over Medicare announced a deal on an SGR repeal and replacement policy. If enacted, the SGR would be permanently repealed and physicians would avert a 23.7 percent payment cut starting April 1. The deal reflects a compromise among SGR bills passed last year by the Senate Finance, House Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means committees. Could this compromise signify an opportunity to put an end to the SGR? To obtain key components of the SGR repeal and replacement deal, read more.
Urgent care providers should think twice when setting copy fees
Kim Kannensohn, Amanda Enyeart, John Saran of McGuireWoods LLP
Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, a patient has a right to request a copy of protected health information (PHI) from an urgent care center. The center may charge the patient a fee for copying the PHI. However, as attorneys with the Richmond, Va.-based McGuireWoods Law Firm detail in this week's practice management feature, the fees charged must be both reasonable and cost based.
Ensure you can compete in the changing landscape of urgent care
Making the commitment to attend a convention can be challenging. Many of us lead hectic work and personal lives. Prying ourselves away from the clinic may seem detrimental but consider this: you are an urgent care clinician, a team leader, center owner, business manager or front-line staff member. Your knowledge and skills are what keep your urgent care center thriving and successful. Ensure you can compete in the changing landscape of urgent care: register to attend the UCAOA National Urgent Care Convention.
If you've attended in the past and think there isn't anything new to learn, think again. This year's educational program has been enhanced and expanded to address the issues affecting you most in urgent care. From healthcare reform and reimbursement strategies to DOT training and orthopedic cases, the practice management and clinical courses as well as the networking opportunities at the National Urgent Care Convention far exceed any other meeting of its kind in the industry. Still need convincing? Read the top 10 reasons why you need to join us March 17-20 in Las Vegas. Don't wait too long, as late registration takes effect March 1 and tuition increases $100.
Capture attention with humor
The advertising billboards of Immediate Care of Southern New Hampshire capture motorist attention using humor. Its series of ads combine combinations of activities and dangers that result in urgent care visits — such as "Picnic and Poison Ivy," "Skateboard and Video Camera" and "Fish Hook and Finger." This campaign is multi-faceted — print, television, Web — and reinforces the message that urgent care is the "solution" when patients run into similar, bad combinations.
If you have tips or advice to share with others, please send your submission along with any photos to Amanda Mannina at email@example.com. Your idea may be included in an upcoming issue of UCAccess.
Now online in JUCM
Expert advice on management of subconjunctival hemorrhage, uveitis, iritis, keratitis, acute angle closure glaucoma and eyelid conditions is the focus of this month's cover story, by Sarvotham Kini, MD. The second of a two-part series, the article includes a wealth of photos to assist urgent care providers with differentiating between benign versus vision-threatening conditions and knowing when it's time to refer to an ophthalmologist. To read "Management of Ocular Complaints in Urgent Care: Part 2," turn to page 9 JUCM online (or in print).
The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine supports the evolution of urgent care medicine by creating content that addresses the clinical practice of urgent care medicine and the practice management challenges of keeping pace with an ever-changing healthcare marketplace. Are you an urgent care provider who would like to write for our journal? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for information on our author guidelines.
CareSpot Opens 6th urgent care center in Broward County, Fla.
The densely-populated Broward County area has a new option for walk-in healthcare starting Feb. 10, as CareSpot opens a sixth area location — its second in the rapidly growing Pembroke Pines, Fla. The 3,500-square-foot location will provide the same broad array of urgent care, health check and occupational health services found at the five other CareSpot locations throughout Broward County in Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs.
Urgent care chain expanding in New York
Five Star Urgent Care is expanding in Onondaga County, N.Y., to serve what it anticipates will be an increased number of newly insured patients seeking medical care. Five Star Urgent Care plans to open two new locations soon in Fairmount and Fayetteville and may open a fourth office in Clay. Dr. John Radford, the owner of Five Star, said he expects a surge of people getting coverage for the first time through Obamacare coupled with a growing doctor shortage to fuel demand for urgent care.
Emergency Room MD to open urgent care center in Bridgeport, Conn.
Dr. Steven Heffer recently bought a Doctors Express Urgent Care Center franchise, and has been actively preparing for its grand opening, set for this March at 161 Boston Ave. in Bridgeport, Conn. Heffer, a primary care physician, will lead the team as the medical director. The state-of-the-art facility will employ from 15-20 people, including medical assistants, physician assistants, certified physicians, X-ray technicians and lab techs, and will be prepared to treat broken and fractured bones, lacerations, sore throats, flu and more.
PM Pediatrics to open 9th urgent care in Spring Valley, NY
PM Pediatrics will open its ninth urgent care practice on Monday, Feb. 17, in Spring Valley, N.Y. The 6,950-square-foot office located at 19 Spring Valley Marketplace, features state-of-the-art X-ray and lab and 16 exam rooms set against a beautiful enchanted castle backdrop. Dr. Andre Persaud will serve as medical director of the new Rockland County location, overseeing all medical operations for the practice.
AFC/Doctors Express ranks in prestigious Entrepreneur Franchise 500
AFC/Doctors Express ranks No. 264 on the prestigious Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list. This coveted list spotlights the country's most successful franchises with proven stability, financial strength and growth. AFC/ Doctors Express began franchising in 2008, expanding from its roots in Maryland to locations across the nation. In 2013, American Family Care acquired Doctors Express, creating the second largest privately owned urgent care system in the country.
CareWell announces new partnership with Lahey
CareWell Urgent Care recently announced a new partnership with New England healthcare system Lahey Health. In the new partnership, which became effective Jan. 7, CareWell clinics will be able to refer patients to Lahey Health specialists and hospitals when necessary. Lahey Health's hospitals, conversely, can refer appropriate patients to nearby CareWell centers, reducing wait times and costs for non-urgent patients.
Are advanced imaging technologies worth the risks?
By Denise A. Valenti
The use of advanced imaging technologies — MRIs and CT scans — increased more than threefold between the years 2000 and 2010. Noninvasive diagnostic technologies can lead to earlier and more precise diagnosis of pathology, but they also come with an increased cost and sometimes with a danger of exposure to ionizing radiation. The risk of incurring cancer from the radiation exposure with CT is small, but it is not zero. With more than 85 million scans performed yearly in the United States, do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Another part of the Affordable Care Act delayed for a year
The Obama administration announced another delay in the implementation of the requirement that employers provide health insurance for their employees. Businesses with more than 50 employees but fewer than 100 will have an extra year to phase in healthcare coverage of employees who work more than 30 hours a week, Treasury Department officials said. Employers with more than 100 employers will be subject to employee-coverage rules under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2015. The mandate to provide insurance had already been delayed one year.
Majority of physicians use mobile devices, but not mobile EHRs
By Pamela Lewis Dolan
Among physicians, mobile devices have become as ubiquitous as lab coats and stethoscopes. Mobile connectivity is becoming increasingly important as physicians find new ways to incorporate the use of mobile devices into their daily lives. One area of medicine that mobile technology hasn't completely infiltrated, however, is electronic health record systems. A recent survey found 78 percent of physicians use smartphones in their professional lives and 51 percent use tablets. But only 8 percent access their EHRs with a smartphone and 17 percent access them with a tablet.
| The Urgent Care Association of America is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.