AMA offers new tools to help doctors navigate COVID-19

To help private-practice physicians manage the operational and business challenges posed by the coronavirus emergency, the American Medical Association has put together several new resources to help practices stay strong.
By Mike Miliard
03:26 PM

On this National Doctors Day, as the U.S. attempts to express gratitude even close to commensurate with the sacrifices and heroism shown by frontline medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association is making available some new resources for physicians.

WHY IT MATTERS

To help private-practice physicians manage the operational and business challenges posed by the coronavirus emergency, AMA has put together some new toolkits to help practices stay strong and deliver better care during the fast-evolving coronavirus crisis.

Among the resources, AMA has published a guide designed to help keep practices solvent. Its financial checklist offers physicians and administrators 14 tips to help business during the public health emergency, such as consolidating administrative resources like coding tools and making better use of digital health technologies.

Another resource is meant to help physicians in developing policies and procedures to triage non-urgent patient requests appropriately – a must-do for private practices during the current crisis. Its eight suggestions can help preserve staff, PPE, supplies and ensure staff and patient safety.

Meanwhile, AMA has also updated its Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. It offers technology implementation tips, as well as a reference to CPT codes for reporting telemedicine and remote care services.

THE LARGER TREND

With the pandemic already proving to be a huge financial risk for primary care practices, AMA is also calling physicians' attention to many provisions of the new government stimulus bill, such as a new loan product from the Small Business Administration for loans of up to $10 million to help cover payroll and overhead costs and expanded loan forgiveness.

As for telehealth, AMA points physicians to the fact that the government has also waived many telehealth requirements for new patients during the emergency, and is allowing for enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.

"Physician practices are being hard-hit by the pandemic, which is threatening the sustainability of practices and could reduce access to care," said AMA President Patrice A. Harris in a statement. "We are urging the Administration to expedite the creation of programs included in the stimulus legislation to enable the dissemination of financial support to meet the urgent need facing many physician practices."

In addition to the tools mentioned above, AMA on March 30 also offered new guidance aimed at retired physicians during the COVID-19 outbreak.

With many healthcare professionals selflessly thinking of leaping back into service to help reinforce beleaguered medical staff, the association offered some words of caution – and highlighted some other ways older docs can be of service.

"Whether 'senior' physicians should be on the front line of patient care at this time is a complex issue that must balance several factors against the benefit these physicians can provide," said Harris, in a statement.

"As with all people in high-risk age groups, careful consideration must be given to the health and safety of retired physicians and their immediate family members, especially those with chronic medical conditions. The availability of personal protective equipment and the opportunity to provide non-direct patient care are also special considerations."

However, retired physicians can play a key role in the battle, she said – especially in the provision of remote care through telehealth programs, by help through online teaching or by providing administrative leadership, all of which enables physicians at lower risk to provide direct patient care.

AMA has developed a resource guide to help senior physicians sort through some of these questions.

ON THE RECORD

"The AMA is laser-focused on ensuring the viability of physicians' practices that are being impacted by the pandemic and will continue providing tools and resources and aggressively advocating on their behalf," said Harris.

"We launched the AMA's COVID-19 resource center to serve as a hub for physicians to find information to meet the daily challenges of managing a practice during the pandemic as well as the latest evidence-based guidance for treating patients."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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