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POSTS BY TAG | vaccinations

Physicians


You’ve made your way to the physician’s corner of the pMD blog, welcome! Here you’ll find information written for physicians, by physicians. 

This post is written by Richard E. Lehman, MD, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

Last year, the world was rocked in ways that no one could have predicted or even imagined. With 2020 and more than half of 2021 behind us, and as the world adapts to a new normal, what does this post-COVID environment look like for physicians, practices, and patients? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the interesting in relation to the impacts of the pandemic on medical practices and their patients, as well as what to expect moving forward.

THE GOOD


Prior to the start of the pandemic, the use of telemedicine was somewhat of a novelty. Some practices began tinkering with this technology for their chronically ill or remote patient populations. As the spread of the virus started gaining speed, practices soon found themselves deep in the throes of figuring out how to integrate video visits into their daily routine and how to help patients through one of the worst global medical crises in recent history. The increased use of telemedicine brought to light the benefits of incorporating technology into patient care, providing flexibility and accessibility to patients who need it most. It also showed us that its success and continued use are largely dependent on an appropriate reimbursement model. Without it, practices may be less incentivized to adopt telemedicine or are likely to face financial challenges. I would hope to see and anticipate seeing some practices adapt to a hybrid model that incorporates both telehealth and in-person visits, barring any reimbursement policy changes. There are still some aspects of medicine that require face-to-face care with a provider but for those less complex scenarios, why not give the patient (and practice) a choice?

THE BAD


In an era where data is more accessible than ever, misinformation is simultaneously on the rise and finding its way into the general public. As a result, we saw more and more hesitation around believing the data and science presented about COVID-19 and mitigating its spread. People tend to forget that science evolves and adjusts as more data is collected. However, the public is constantly being bombarded with quick one-liners and sensational headlines in the media, many of which are inaccurate statements. This mistrust permeated throughout the country and, in my opinion, has been devastating to the medical community. With the rapid vaccine deployment, it's understandable that patients have questions regarding the effectiveness and potential unknown side effects. Over time, with more data, we’ll be able to paint a better and more clear picture to patients surrounding the vaccine. It's our job as physicians to answer questions and help them make informed decisions based on their medical history. 

So, what does this mean for health care moving forward? It means that medicine is now even more having to compete with the media and navigate that influence on their patients. Providers are not only health care professionals but are also now having to manage public health and society concerns. However, while we all have differing opinions about what to do and how to cope in certain situations, I believe providers need to elevate their approach towards a more open and transparent environment with patients, allowing for more engagement and helping prevent patients from finding other, less reliable sources of information surrounding their care. We should embrace the questions and not shut people down when questioning what they believe to be fact. The COVID crisis is under the microscope, so being open to conversation and providing thoughtful explanations can provide a stable foundation with patients. 

Health care is changing as rapidly as the world and we should take away from this recent pandemic lessons in not only handling future outbreaks but also handling patient trust where trust has been lost. The bottom line is that how we collect data and release that information needs to improve. For example, how many people test positive for COVID-19 doesn’t tell the same story as to how many of those patients are severely ill, hospitalized, and/or need a ventilator. The foreseeable future holds residual pandemic effects, and providers will be expected to work even harder to regain patient trust.

THE INTERESTING


While many of the impacts of the pandemic are fairly obvious or have been discussed at length for the past year and a half, there are also plenty of areas of medicine that have seen a ripple effect and are likely to change moving forward. As a pediatric physician, an interesting event that resulted from 2020’s lockdowns was the decrease in child immunizations. According to a recent article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, infants and toddlers up to age 2 years in Michigan have been falling behind on their immunizations, showing a decline in January 2020 through April 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019. Only the hepatitis B vaccine dose given at birth, typically in the hospital, did not decrease. This is just one example of the many impacts a pandemic can have on ancillary health care, which is just as important to recognize. Since many ancillary services in health care require in-person visits and render telehealth a suboptimal solution, providers are looking towards new strategies to maintain essential services.

It’s hard to imagine that the first half of 2021 sped by so quickly, considering everything we’d been through in 2020. As we navigate the good, the bad, and the interesting in relation to this pandemic, we can’t forget that COVID-19 will still continue to have a presence moving forward. A practice’s ability to adapt in the face of sudden change is essential for successful patient care and its survival as a business. We should continue to learn from one another and work through challenges together despite our differences in hopes to quickly combat any future outbreaks. 

Dr. Rick Lehman is a veteran critical care physician, providing care to pediatric patients across the country. He’s “grown-up” with the changes in health care over the last 20 years related software and has been directly involved with implementing new EMR systems at multiple hospitals, often transitioning them from paper to digital systems. His frustrations surrounding inefficient EMRs while managing his critical care patients have driven his passion for changing these health care systems to create better provider workflows.

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To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrybilling servicestelehealthsecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.
Proof of vaccination

Amid this pandemic, vaccines are a topic that is at the forefront of health conversations and news. Everyone is looking forward to the day that a COVID-19 vaccine is available to help us start returning to “normal”. However, there’s another aspect that perhaps only some have considered: proof of having received the COVID-19 vaccination.

2021 May Be the Year More People Need Proof of Vaccination

Typically, the only situations requiring vaccination records are grade school and summer camp attendance, being a member of a sports team, military enlistment/deployment, and employment in the health and safety industries. However, 2021 could be the first year where average people need a way of presenting proof of vaccination in situations ranging from attending a game at a sports venue to boarding an airplane. There is even historical precedent of the U.S. government mandating vaccinations. Even employers have the legal right to enforce vaccination requirements for their employees. It’s not farfetched to imagine a future where employers make proof of COVID-19 vaccination a condition of new or even continued employment.

Empowering Patients with Easily Accessible Vaccination Records

This possibility fits neatly into the health care industry’s trend of encouraging patients to take a more active role in their own health care. One way patients can take a step towards that goal is to know if they are up-to-date on their vaccines and maintain an easily accessible vaccination record. The CDC’s vaccination schedule for adults is more involved than most would think, e.g. specifying repeated doses of vaccines like TDAP every 10 years. Personally, I would like to know I’m up-to-date on my vaccines without having to sift through old paper records or contact multiple health care providers such as pharmacies and general practitioners. 

Electronic Records a Better Solution than Paper-Based

Even in this day and age of technology, one of the CDC’s official recommendations for recording your vaccinations is to use this PDF. You’re instructed to print it out, take it with you every time you are vaccinated and have your provider fill it out. This inherently comes with all the downsides of a paper-based solution, ranging from the potential for human error when recording the information to damage or loss of the entire record itself. The vast majority of health care providers have incorporated some form of electronic health system for storing patient data, often with a patient portal. This gives patients the means to more easily access or even download copies of their health records. These copies can then be viewed at any time by using cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud Drive, which allow access to those files from whatever device is on hand. 

pMD Makes Requesting & Receiving Records Easy for Patient & Provider

pMD already has the capability to assist patients with retrieving their vaccination and health records. Patients can securely message their practice from the app and request for their records. Practices can then directly send health records to their patients in a HIPAA-compliant manner using the attachments feature in our patient messaging platform. Even obtaining access to the patient portal of providers’ electronic health record systems can be simplified through pMD via chat communication, allowing login information to be shared securely. With such an easy tool available to get a handle on your vaccination and health records, why not start today?

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To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.