2020 has been an extraordinary year in health care, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting physicians and their teams, patients and their families, health care facilities and systems, and communities. At TMLT, the risk management team has responded to the crisis in the following ways.
We transitioned our continuing medical education (CME) activities to virtual platforms and developed new programs on topics such as telemedicine; legal considerations of COVID-19; strategies for enhancing communication and documentation during a pandemic; and opioids prescribing.
We replaced our annual seminar series with an online webinar series that featured discussions on medical records, the impact of COVID-19 on privacy and security, and regulatory compliance.
We expanded our remote practice reviews, including electronic questionnaire completion; remote access and review of the electronic health record (EHR); a virtual tour of the practice; a follow-up discussion to address risks via a web platform or phone call; and pertinent, specialty-specific resources provided electronically. Our risk managers worked to make the conversion from in-person to virtual practice reviews seamless for practices and groups.
Throughout the crisis, we assisted physicians and their staff members with their inquiries and concerns related to matters such as:
- practice closures;
- shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE);
- the Texas Medical Board (TMB) rules and emergency orders related to elective surgeries and pain management;
- loosening restrictions within telehealth;
- scope of practice issues;
- standards for reopening practices; and
- physicians and/or staff members testing positive.
We also closely monitored COVID-19 consultation topics to identify trends and meet the immediate needs of our groups and practices.
We worked closely with the TMLT Marketing Department to develop content for TMLT’s Resource Hub webpage dedicated to COVID-19 at https://hub.tmlt.org/coronavirus.
These resources address topics such as best practices to communicate with patients and families during COVID-19; infection control measures in your practice; and frequently asked questions surrounding COVID-19. Information and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA), and Texas Medical Association (TMA) were also shared regularly via the Resource Hub.
Throughout the crisis, we researched emerging topics for our large groups and practices, such as COVID-related liability issues, specialty-specific claims trends, remote patient monitoring, and physician supervision concerns.
At no cost to policyholders, we offered the online CME program “Combating physician stress and burnout,” on TMLT’s CME website at https://tmlt.inreachce.com/. The course offers practical strategies for reducing stress and enhancing well-being during difficult times.
We produced a podcast on stress and burnout related to COVID-19 with Dr. Brian Sayers, founding chair of the physician wellness program at the Travis County Medical Society (TCMS). The podcast, “Stress and burnout: The silent health care epidemic,” is on the podcasts page of the Resource Hub at https://hub.tmlt.org/podcasts.
In collaboration with our marketing team, we also offered the podcast “From bedside to webside: setting up your virtual workspace” to provide physicians with strategies to improve virtual office visits with patients, such as encouraging dialogue and optimal placement of audio and video equipment.
At TMLT, it is our sincere privilege to serve physicians and their medical teams who continue to risk their own health and safety to safeguard that of others. We are committed to providing customized, high-quality programs for our physician policyholders, with the goals of enhancing patient safety and reducing medical liability risk.
Please contact the Risk Management Department at 800-580-8658 for assistance with practice concerns or to schedule services.
Lesley Viner can be reached at email@example.com.