Archive for December 16th, 2015

Flu Vaccine

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 // Flu, Vaccines

Everyone over the age of 6 months should get the flu vaccine. It used to be so simple; there was just one flu vaccine.  Now we have high dose, trivalent, quadrivalent, intranasal and intradermal, to name a few.  Here is a list of the vaccines available and their indications:

flu-vaccine

To avoid ordering multiple types of flu vaccine we have chosen the vaccine that would suit the needs of the majority of our patients, the standard dose trivalent vaccine.  Some patients have asked about the high dose vaccine–it contains much more antigen than the standard dose, but studies so far show that it is no more effective, or may be only marginally better, depending on which study one reads.

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Patient Portal Instructions Redux

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 // Patient Portal

These are the instructions for retrieving your blood test results from the secure patient portal.

Here is it how it works:

  1. We collect your personal email address and enter that into our computer system
  2. We register you for the Patient Portal and assign you your own unique PIN.
  3. To complete the registration process, log into the CGM PATIENTPORTAL at https://phr.cgmus.com/. a. Please use Chrome as the web browser of choice for this site.
  4. The first time you access the Patient Portal, you will be required to “Create your account”, which is where you will need your PIN (noted below). a. If you lose your PIN, you may contact your doctor’s office to have it provided to you.
  5. Select “Create your account”, where you will be asked to enter your PIN, the first three letters of your first name, the first three letters of your last name, and your date of birth. a. NOTE: when creating your account or when using the Forgot Password function are the only two times that you need your PIN. Your password is used for login to the portal.
  6. Click “Next”, and you will be asked to create a password for your Patient Portal account.
    1. Enter a Password that you will remember.
    2. If you forget your password, you may select the “Forgot Password?” link on the homepage of the Patient Portal. i. NOTE: Your doctor’s office will not know your password and will not be able to change it for you. You must use the “Forgot Password?” link to recover your password.
  1. Back at the login screen you will enter the following details to login:
    1. Email Address = your personal email address that you provided to your doctor’s office.
    2. Password = the password you just created.
  1. You now have access to the Patient Portal, and you are on your way to communicating directly, and securely, with your doctor! a. NOTE: You may only send messages from the Patient Portal to someone who has a specific secure email address.

Every time we send you a secure message via the Patient Portal, you will receive a notification in your personal email account. This way, you know when you have something new in your Patient Portal in-box. In these emails sent to your personal account, you are provided with the URL/hyperlink to the Patient Portal. Each time you access the Patient Portal (after your initial login) you are asked to login with your personal email address and your password (the password you entered during account creation at first login).

  • The URL for the Patient Portal is https://phr.cgmus.com/.
  • REMEMBER: The Patient Portal is not the place to report to us any emergency concerns. If you are experiencing any emergency, please dial 911. The Patient Portal messages we receive from you will be checked throughout the day on regular business days.
  • We can use the Patient Portal for the following purposes and as applicable:
    • Sending you a summary of your recent office visit
    • Providing you with a URL to review any patient-specific education resources
    • Informing you of other medical items, such as lab results

We look forward to communicating with you on-line!

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New Mammography Guidelines

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 // Women's Health

Here is a summary from the publication Journal Watch:

American Cancer Society Updates Mammography Guidelines for Average-Risk Women
American Cancer Society Updates Mammography Guidelines for Average-Risk WomenRecommendations move closer to those of the USPSTF — but differences remain.
Recommendations move closer to those of the USPSTF — but differences remain.
Andrew M. Kaunitz, MD

Based on input from clinicians, public health specialists, laypeople, and a commissioned review, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has issued its first guideline update since 2003 regarding screening mammography for average-risk women (no personal history of breast cancer, known mutation associated with excess risk, or history of chest wall radiation at a young age). Recommendations are delineated as strong (consensus that the benefits of adhering to the recommendation outweigh undesirable effects) or qualified (clear evidence of benefits but less certainty about benefit–harm balance or women’s preferences that could influence their decisions). The new guidelines are as follows:Age

  • Age 40–44: Optional annual screening mammography (qualified)
  • Age 45: Begin screening (strong)
  • Age 45–54: Annual screening (qualified)
  • Age ≥55: Biennial screening with option to continue annual screens (qualified)
  • Continue screening as long as overall health is good and life expectancy is ≥10 years (qualified).
  • Any age: Clinical breast examination (CBE) for screening is not recommended (qualified).

Comment: The updated ACS recommendations reduce the potential for harms (overdiagnosis and unnecessary additional imaging and biopsies) and move closer to the guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF; i.e., begin biennial screening at age 50; NEJM JW Womens Heath Dec 2009 and Ann Intern Med 2009; 151:716).As one editorialist points out, the ACS recommendation to begin screening at age 45 is based on observational comparisons between screened and unscreened cohorts, a type of analysis the USPSTF does not consider because of concerns about bias. The ACS’s recommendation for annual screening in women aged 45–54 is based in part on the findings of a recent study showing that, for premenopausal (but not postmenopausal) women, tumor stage was higher and size larger for screen-detected lesions among women undergoing biennial screens. The ACS recommendation against screening CBE, stemming from the absence of data supporting CBE’s benefits (alone or with screening mammography), represents a dramatic change from the society’s prior stance. Moreover, in leaving their 2003 guidance regarding breast self-examination unchanged, the ACS continues to recommend against this latter practice. Overall, these updated guidelines should result in more women starting screening mammograms later in life as well as opting for biennial screening, meaning fewer lifetime screens. Also, fewer breast examinations during well-woman visits will allow clinicians more time to assess family history and other risk factors for breast cancer, as well as to maintain dialog about screening recommendations. In my practice, I will continue to encourage screening per USPSTF guidance (begin biennial screens at age 50) for my average-risk patients, while recognizing that many will be more comfortable starting screening at an earlier age and annually thereafter. – See more at: http://www.jwatch.org/na39390/2015/10/22/american-cancer-society-updates-mammography-guidelines#sthash.I7aWUyaH.dpuf

My two cents from Dr. Jennifer Wallace:

Previously the standard of practice was for women to have annual mammograms starting at age 40. We now have two agencies who have recommended reduced frequency of screening mammograms for average risk women. The difficulty with screening procedures, as always, is to find the right balance between screening frequently enough to detect problems at an easily curable stage vs. screening too often, leading to further possibly unnecessary testing and anxiety.

Previously the standard of practice was for women to have annual mammograms starting at age 40. We now have two agencies who have recommended reduced frequency of screening mammograms for average risk women. The difficulty with screening procedures, as always, is to find the right balance between screening frequently enough to detect problems at an easily curable stage vs. screening too often, leading to further possibly unnecessary testing and anxiety.

The new recommendations by the American Cancer Society for less frequent mammograms are somewhat “soft”, leaving us a lot of wiggle room. Their recommendations, other than to start screening at age 45, are “qualified”, meaning that the benefits are known, but there is less certainty about whether the harms of screening on the proposed schedule outweigh the benefits. Further, since we have recently started using “3D mammograms”, which are less likely to miss small or early cancers, I wonder if the “benefit vs. harm” calculation could possibly change in favor of annual screening again.

Unfortunately, it may take years before the harms, if any, of the reduced screening are known. I will look forward to finding out those results. Meanwhile, for now I am leaning toward continuing annual mammograms, particularly in women who are taking postmenopausal hormone replacement. As always, I will be open to discussion with my patients about their preferences, and stay open to change as more information becomes available.

Jennifer Wallace MD

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Insurance Conundrum

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 // Insurance

BCBS (Blue Cross Blue Shield) has canceled all their PPO plans in Texas and are only offering HMO plans through the federal website, Healthcare.gov. In addition, other insurers are canceling their PPO products. This will leave patients with more restrictions on the doctors that they are able to see. From our standpoint, HMO’s are less desirable because they require us to obtain authorizations or referrals for our patients to see any other physician. If many of our patients choose HMO’s we will have to hire someone to just take care of the paperwork. It is like having an unfunded mandate from Congress. It increases the hassle factor of obtaining needed care. If you are having difficulty obtaining insurance, I think it makes sense to use an agent. There are a number of independent insurance agencies which have agents who can assist in sorting through all the options. Wortham, Catto and Catto and Sanger and Altgelt all have agents who can assist in this. The key points are: 1) to look at a plan’s website and see if we are on it. It seems logical that we would know every plan that we are on, but that’s not the case given the turmoil in this industry. 2) Look for something that contains the phrase “Open Access”. This generous access to specialists than a traditional HMO.

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