CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

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CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

cdc covid reimbursement ehr

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of COVID-19. With vaccine distribution at an all time high, clinics across America are searching for ways to provide care to communities through doses, screenings, and hospital care.

With the ongoing pandemic, clinicians across the United States are in need of assistance to continue to provide care to communities. With resources stretched thin, medical practitioners require reimbursement if they are to continue aiding the public. Thankfully, in early February 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) teamed together to announce their plans for relief funding for health care clinics across the United States. Starting with a new release of ICD codes and requirements for reimbursement, the CDC is making rapid steps towards aiding the relief effort in Spring 2021.

Throughout 2020, the CDC has released ICD codes for monitoring the novel coronavirus as it spreads throughout the United States. These codes detail how hospitals, private practitioners, and the public can safely protect against the virus and handle the development of the pandemic. January 1, 2021 saw a new release of these ICD regulations. The CDC and the NCHS have implemented new codes for the classification COVID-19, screening techniques, indirect and direct contact, history with the virus, and effects of the virus on pneumonia, connective tissues, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. The new codes and classification of the virus help healthcare centers to properly treat and diagnose COVID-19 cases as they come.

With updates on the codes to be published in the near future, many healthcare providers and hospitals are anticipating how this development will affect them. A crucial resource for practitioners has been the CDC guidelines. These guidelines have proved useful in delineating treatment, screening, and disbursement in 2020 and 2019. Treating a great volume of COVID-19 patients has been a great burden for healthcare providers across the nation. In addition to treatment, clinics now face the monumental task of vaccine distribution in the following months. 

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of the virus, as the vaccine is being progressively administered across the country.  Having an electronic health record solution that encompasses all the current codes, COVID-19 screening, and mass vaccination functionality can amplify the success of the response to the virus for treatment and vaccinations.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Public Health vs Personal Choice. How can meaningful use EHR help keep public safe?

Vaccine

Despite recent popularity on the internet and media, vaccines have been used and developed for nearly 200 years. A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular disease. Their prevalent use in industrialized countries has dramatically improved overall population health and eradicated or nearly eradicated many diseases that were once a great threat.  Still, the dispute over personal choice vs. government mandates is an uncomfortable subject with many people.  Federal mandates for vaccinations have increased over the years in support of improving public health and each state has different rulings of when personal and religious beliefs can override state laws.  However, the fact remains that we are all responsible for the health of our population.  While modern vaccines are not 100% they have disposed of the threat of diseases such as polio and dramatically reduce common potentially life-threatening childhood illness such as chicken pox and the measles.

 

Efficacy and Challenges

There are many diseases that are vaccine-preventable and are currently on the schedule of standard vaccines for children.  Most of them are either viral or bacterial highly contagious lung infections, such as measles or pertussis. Vaccines have contributed to the eradication of smallpox, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases in humans. Other diseases such as rubella, polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and typhoid are nowhere near as common as they were a hundred years ago. As long as the vast majority of people are vaccinated, it is much more difficult for an outbreak of disease to occur, let alone spread. This effect is called herd immunity and what makes widespread vaccine use necessary. Still, if vaccines are so successful, why do so many people opt out?  Everyone’s reasons may be different but not all stick to their beliefs after an incident, such as in the case of the family who triggered a Disneyland measles outbreak.

 

Although, there are a few people who opt-out of vaccinations for personal issues often promoted by pseudoscience found on the web, the vast majority do opt in.  In fact, a very large number of people take advantage of no or low-cost vaccinations provided by public health departments.  Local health departments are doing an incredible job ensuring children are vaccinated on schedule and our communities can stay protected from these preventable diseases.  Local health departments review their paper immunization records (sometimes in foreign languages) and check status in immunization registries.  Modern apps-based Electronic Health Record software, connected to state immunization registries, can bring the needed efficiencies at the patient registration and point of immunization.  For health departments who focus primarily on immunizations, an Immunization App developed specifically for public health can provide easier and more efficient work flows. Based on current records, nurses can provide appropriate immunizations based on age and CDC recommendations.

 

Top 10 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases:

  1. Measles: A highly contagious lung infection.
  2. Whooping Cough (Pertussis): A lung infection that makes it hard to breathe due to severe coughing.
  3. Flu: A viral infection of the nose, lungs, and throat.
  4. Polio: A viral disease
  5. Pneumococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause many types of illness, including pneumonia, ear and blood infections, and meningitis (which affects the brain and spinal cord).
  6. Tetanus: A bacterial disease that causes lockjaw, breathing problems, muscle spasms, paralysis, and death.
  7. Meningococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the blood.
  8. Hepatitis B: A liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus.
  9. Tuberculosis: A bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs.
  10. HIB (Haemophilus Influenza Type B): A bacterial disease that infects the lungs (pneumonia), brain or spinal cord (meningitis), blood, bone, or joints.

The debate about personal choice will continue.  People will make choices (good or bad), and public health departments will continue to do an amazing job at keeping the majority immunized against preventable diseases.  In that respect, Meaningful Use mandate of EHR and connectivity to Immunization registry is a good thing.

Healthcare and Public Health System; As it is Today and How it Should Evolve

Dr. Stephanie Bailey

Our Guest – Dr. Stephanie Bailey, Dean and Director of Public Health Initiatives, College of Health Sciences, TN State University

Over the years, physicians and healthcare providers have played a role in addressing many of the non-medical issues – absolutely! Doctors are educated – you learn to take the history, you learn to do the physical and then you confirm with the laboratory. The history is the key piece of the “art of medicine.” You talk about social issues: where the patient has traveled, how they were raised, where they live, what they eat, how they go about their day – that’s all part of the review of systems as I go from head to toe, but it takes time. By the time I finish the history, oh my, I should be clued in on my diagnosis. You then have the laboratory and the physical exam to confirm that diagnosis. So really, the art of medicine is the story.

 

We’ve gotten away from that for so many reasons: because of litigation, because of how things are reimbursed; and then how most of your money – 17% of our GDP – goes to healthcare but only less than 2% is for public health. In today’s practice, the perfect system of health would be a health system like we first talked about when I was at CDC. In general, people are born basically healthy. People then go through a period while aging, or as environments or events impose on them, where you move from a safer, healthier people to vulnerable people; then people become affected without complications, and then affected people with complications. Right now, most of our GDP dollars are spent around the affected people with complications.

 

Health System: Health Protection for Life

Health System: Health Protection for Life

We’re not very good at reversing things. When a person is born there are things you can put in place that make you less vulnerable to disease and things: immunization is a good one, eating right is another one to affect chronic disease; not smoking, or creating an environment which is healthy. All these actions can prevent people from moving into a vulnerable state or back to a safer and healthier environment. Unfortunately, the least amount of money is spent at this end of the spectrum, where the core of the public health system lies. If we could put these two ends of the spectrum in equal balance, than we would have a health “system”. That’s protection for life, and that’s where I’d like to see us get to over time.

 

This blog is an excerpt from our interview conducted with Dr. Bailey. For more of Dr. Bailey’s Q&A, read her full Expert Interview.

 

Ebola on our minds

Because we are involved in the Public Health sector (and interested), it is hard not to follow the Ebola epidemic. Every news station aired has one story or another about new cases and reactions of the communities; the thousands affected in West Africa, and at least 17 travelers from other countries, including the United States.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Local Health Departments (LHDs) are now faced with a crisis that may or may not happen in the US, but preparedness is the best prevention method.
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What is Public Health?

What is public health

I’m pretty sure everyone in Public Health knows what Public Health is, but when it comes to those they serve, most don’t have any idea.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it a bit differently but with the same meaning; Public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole.

 

According to the WHO, the three main public health functions are:

  • The assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and populations at risk to identify health problems and priorities.
  • The formulation of public policies designed to solve identified local and national health problems and priorities.
  • To assure that all populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective care, including health promotion and disease prevention services.

 

Public health departments not only provide quality clinical services, they also work closely with schools, federal and state health agencies, and private providers every day to increase awareness, provide safe environments, and educate and reach out to those who need it.

 

“Public health organizations have an opportunity to advocate for health in every policy, especially when these organizations reside within a local government. By being part of the system, they can work collaboratively with elected officials and staff to ensure that, for example, master plans include pedestrian and bike friendly streets, parks and trails, and access to healthy foods in every neighborhood. When public health partners with policy makers, more equitable conditions can be created for all residents in a community” says Jan O’Neill, MPA, Community Coach, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

 

“Much of our work produces conditions that, while they may be appreciated, are not associated with public health—like clean water, safe food in restaurants, and healthy children. These are things people value but don’t link to public health.” says Anna Schenck, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, UNC Gillings Schools of Global Public Health.

 

Public health is like that perfect waiter or waitress that always keeps your coffee cup filled, just when you want it, without you ever even noticing them. And just like that perfect server, public health is all around you, making it easier for us all to make healthy choices.