• Texas Family Doc Talk episode 2: The big telemedicine show

    Tags: Texas Family Doc Talk, podcast, telemedicine

    By Jonathan Nelson

    The second episode of our brand-new podcast, Texas Family Doc Talk, is out and it’s all about telemedicine. As family physicians across the country see their number of patient visits plummet, many are turning to telemedicine in hopes of providing consistent, comprehensive care to their patients while maintaining enough cash flow to keep the doors open.

    In the podcast, TAFP CEO Tom Banning and I speak with three experts from Catalyst Health Network in Dallas. Jeff Bullard, MD, chief medical officer for Catalyst, describes the experience of transitioning to virtual care. Trevor Clifton, senior financial analyst for StratiFi Health, discusses financial models for moving most of your visits to telemedicine. And Stephenie Tollett, director of revenue cycle for StratiFi Health, talks with us about third-party contract and claims payment issues for telemedicine.

  • A welcome reminder a long way from home

    Tags: Lesca Hadley, long way from home, Guatemala

    By Lesca Hadley, MD

    On the second day of a spring break medical trip in the mountains of Guatemala, an 87-year-old patient led carefully by her great grandson’s wife entered the schoolroom where I was seeing patients with a UNTHSC medical student, a nursing student, and our Spanish translator. She couldn’t have had another wrinkle on her wizened face. She lived alone on the edge of her village near fields of corn. Everyday she walked her route, selling milk she got from her neighbor to the families in town.

    She had delivered milk the previous day, but on this day, she was too weak to stand without help. She had a temperature of 99.5, and she felt hot. Her productive cough was audible. She trembled as our small interprofessional team began to examine her, gently raising her clothing. This was her first time to see a doctor.

  • C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session is canceled

    Tags: cfw, canceled, COVID-19, C. Frank Webber Lectureship

    After careful consideration, TAFP leadership has decided to cancel the C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session along with all associated meetings. The health of our members, your patients, and your communities are our top priorities, and keeping you healthy and available to care for others is paramount.

    TAFP will issue full refunds to all registrants over the next one to two weeks. If you made a hotel reservation to attend the conference, please contact the hotel at (512) 343-2626 to cancel.

    At this time, we expect to host the Texas Family Medicine Symposium in San Antonio as planned, June 5-7, 2020. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and we will quickly inform you of any changes.

  • President's Letter

    Tags: Javier “Jake” Margo Jr., MD, tafp president, presidents letter, will you come play with me

    A celebration of family medicine: How Disney literally saved my life

    By Javier “Jake” Margo Jr., MD
    TAFP President

    A couple of summers ago, on a rare day off, I was working on a detailed email advocating to keep the electricity on for our not-for-profit community center, when my son James, who was 7 at the time, walked into my office — or as my Harry-Potter-centric friends have dubbed it, the “Room of Requirement,” because anything you need can be found there.

    He and I were the only two people in the house since my daughter, Ella, was at Girl Scout Camp and my wife, Lisa, was at work. He had given up trying to teach the cats play catch when he walked in, stopped just short of my elbow, stared silently with his big brown eyes, and asked, “Daddy, will you play with me?” 

  • Houston family practice encounters COVID-19

    Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, Clive Fields, VillageMD, Village Medical, patient self-assessment tool

    Lessons learned: A conversation with Clive Fields, MD, of VillageMD

    By Jonathan Nelson

    In late February, a patient came in to Village Medical in Houston for her annual exam. She had just returned from Egypt. She presented with mild respiratory symptoms and received appropriate treatment. Three days later, she was notified that some of her travel companions had tested positive for COVID-19. Village Medical referred her to the health department, which in turn referred her to the emergency room where she was hospitalized. Four days later, the CDC confirmed the patient had the new coronavirus. The family physician and nurse who cared for her are now quarantined at home for 14 days and others who came in brief contact with her are being monitored for symptoms, including persistent fever.

    The experience has caused Clive Fields, MD, chief medical officer and co-founder of VillageMD, to think a lot about how the country’s frontline physicians should be prepared to handle this potential pandemic.

  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) resources

    Tags: coronavirus, TAFP, Texas academy of family physicians, public health, COVID-19

    As more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed, family physicians should focus on preparation and prevention. Patients will likely have questions and concerns, and you may experience an increase in patients with respiratory symptoms. Now is the time to prepare yourself and your practice for the possibility that the virus will spread. TAFP will share resources as this situation evolves.

    The Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 resource page for health professionals includes criteria to guide testing for persons under investigation, a health care professional preparedness checklist, and information about personal protective equipment.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established a site to house information about the virus as it is discovered.

  • Attend NCCL or ACLF with a scholarship

    Want to go to the AAFP Leadership Conference this year? We are seeking applicants for our scholarships to attend AAFP’s National Conference of Constituency Leaders and Annual Chapter Leader Forum, April 23-25, in Kansas City, Missouri.

    TAFP offers scholarships for one third-year resident and one minority physician to attend NCCL, as well as two future leader scholarships for members to attend ACLF. Applications are due February 7, so act soon!

    Download the NCCL third-year resident scholarship application

  • Independent physicians are disappearing and communities suffer for it

    By Christopher Crow, MD, MBA

    Every six months, leaders and physicians in the Catalyst Health Network—independent physicians all—get together to talk over what’s going on in our network and in health care generally. They’re great meetings. I always leave fired up about our work and I think my fellow physicians do, too.

    These convenings are especially encouraging at this time when there is so much pressure on physicians to join big hospital systems and affiliated medical groups. Such mergers are driving health care economics in Texas and across the country — and they’re creating big problems for patients, physicians, and communities.

  • Looking ahead to 2020—Seeking clarity in a cloud of change and disruption

    By Tom Banning

    Momentum continues to grow for value-based payment initiatives and other alternative payment models to fee for service. According to a report from the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, 34% of all U.S. health care payments in 2017 were tied to the value of care delivered, up from 23% in 2015.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has led the charge toward value-based payment models, through various programs that design, pilot, and reward providers’ participation in them–pay for performance, Medicare Shared Savings ACOs, bundled payments, etc. Additionally, Medicare Advantage participation continues to grow and flourish. Commercial insurers are also beginning to aggressively drive payment models away from fee for service toward total cost of care, capitation, and value-based payments through exclusive provider or narrow networks.