Current Bulletin

  • MAHEC Helps Prepare Western North Carolina for MACRA

    The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Health Innovation Partners (HIP) team has assisted more than 120 western North Carolina practices thus far in implementing quality improvement programs, data collection and reporting processes, which are recognized and rewarded with higher reimbursement under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) has contracted with MAHEC in a pilot project to provide their practice transformation consulting services to under resourced practices in the western part of the state thanks to a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Read about two practices helped by this grant.

    Because of their good work, the MAHEC HIP Team was one of only five organizations across the country asked to submit case studies for the MACRA Toolkit recently published by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. MAHEC was the only organization in the US that provided more than one study.

    The success stories include a practice that improved blood pressure control by more than 40 percent in patients with hypertension. Another practice identified patients at increased risk of cardiovascular disease who would benefit from but weren’t receiving aspirin or statin therapy. These outreach efforts not only improved prevention therapy rates but also increased the use of statins in more than 90 percent of patients with established cardiovascular disease.

    Two other WNC practices whose stories are included in the toolkit implemented team-based continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes that helped them achieve Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition. Using a team-based approach to CQI helped these practices prevent provider and staff burnout while improving patient health outcomes on a variety of measures.

    To learn more about the NCMS’ pilot project with MAHEC contact Franklin Walker at The NCMS also offers assistance in meeting MACRA’s requirements with comprehensive online resources on our website and through our involvement with Caravan Health and National Rural Accountable Care Consortium.

    To learn more about MAHEC’s practice consulting services, you can visit the MAHEC website or contact Leslie McDowell at or 771-4227. Click here to access the MACRA Toolkit.

  • Finding the Right Words for Better Health

    October is Health Literacy month, a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information. This month-long focus on effective health communication began in 1999. Learn more about the history and goals.

    Raising awareness and offering resources to help you better communicate with your patients is key to health literacy. Some resources include Health Information Translations, which offers culturally appropriate health education resources in a variety of languages. Access this resource.

    Wake County also was recognized several years ago for its Health Literacy Coalition, which seeks to improve health literacy by offering help to clearly communicate about health through its volunteer clinicians, public health specialists, health educators and librarians. Health literacy is also a major focus of research and practice at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Learn more.

  • Love Has A LOT to Do With It

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Center for Leadership in Medicine played host to the Triangle Health Promotion Network meeting, which brings together health promotion professionals from organizations around the triangle, when they welcomed MJ Shaar as their guest speaker. Shaar energetically made the case that a loving work environment – one which values care and compassion for each other – results in healthier, happier, more productive workers and ultimately a better bottom line.

    Shaar is an expert in applying positive psychology to health promotion. Trained by the National Speakers Association, she is one of the first 50 in the world to obtain a Master in Applied Positive Psychology from University of Pennsylvania. She is the co-author of “Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance,” and contributes to The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Learn more at her website.

    In her lively presentation, which included singing and dancing, Shaar listed several questions to use in the workplace to start the conversation around caring + compassion.

    • Whom did you connect with today?
    • Whom did you support this week?
    • Whom are you grateful to today?
    • How can you make someone feel special today?

    NCMS Plan members have Health Promotion Program Manager Jason Horay to consult on special wellness and health promotion programs for their practice. Contact him at or 919-878-7530.

  • KUDOS To These Distinguished NCMS Members

    John H. Sampson, MD, PhD, MHSc., MBA

    John H. Sampson, MD, PhD, MHSc, MBA, Robert H. and Gloria Wilkins Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery and chair, department of neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, was one of only 70 medical professionals in the United States to be elected to The National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. New members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

    “These newly elected members represent the most exceptional scholars and leaders in science, medicine, and health in the U.S. and around the globe,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Their expertise will help our organization address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care to benefit us all. I am honored to welcome these distinguished individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”

    Congratulations Dr. Sampson!

    Warren Newton, MD, MPH

    Warren Newton, MD, MPH, who was named the American Board of Family Medicine’s (ABFM) next President and Chief Executive Officer. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2018 as President and CEO Elect until succeeding Dr. James C. Puffer upon his retirement on Jan. 1, 2019. Dr. Newton will oversee the ABFM, as well as the ABFM Foundation and Pisacano Leadership Foundation.

    Dr. Newton is currently Executive Director of the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (NC AHEC), a national leader in practice redesign, continuing professional development, health careers programming and innovation in graduate medical education, and Vice Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC). A longtime North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) member, Dr. Newton has been a personal physician for 33 years, working in a variety of settings, In the 1990s, he founded the first hospitalist program at UNC Hospitals and helped reorganize family medicine obstetrics into a maternal child service. Over the past 15 years, he has led practice transformation initiatives at the practice, regional and statewide levels. From 2012 to 2017, he served on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina State Health Plan. In 2016, he served as Senior Policy Advisor to the North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services, helping to prepare the Medicaid 1115 innovation waiver, plan rural residency expansion and develop quality metrics for Medicaid. Read more about Dr. Newton’s distinguished background.

    Congratulations, Dr. Newton!

    Charles Kays, MD, DMD, FACS

    Charles Kays, MD, a Wilmington plastic surgeon and Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership (KIPL) Leadership College, class of 2003 alumnus, has been recognized with a Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Congratulations Dr. Kays!

  • In the News

  • Learning Opportunities

    On Oct. 19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold a webcast to provide an overview of the Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and how to interpret and use the information. The reports have been available since Sept. 18, 2017. You can access your report at How to Obtain a QRUR and see how your practice performed in 2016 on the quality and cost measures used to calculate the 2018 Value-based Payment Modifier. You can also see how this modifier will be applied to payments.  Learn more on the 2016 QRUR and 2018 Value Modifier webpage. The webinar will be more meaningful if you have your report in front of you to follow along. Register now.

    Join NC HealthConnex and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the Healthcare Informatics Health IT Summit in Raleigh, Oct. 19-20 at the Sheraton Downtown.  The Summit gathers health care IT leaders to share best practices, case studies and insights in a wide variety of important topics and will feature a State Spotlight with NC DHHS discussing Medicaid and payment reform and how technology will continue to drive collaboration in the state. Learn more and register.

    AMA Quality Improvement Webinar – Root-cause Analysis: Digging Deep to Improve on Nov. 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. Without an understanding of what is driving poor quality or performance, it is difficult to improve. Root-cause analysis is a critical tool in the quality improvement tool box that allows professionals to understand what’s at the heart of the problem, and then develop improvement ideas that can make a difference. In this 1-hour webinar, PCPI Director of Quality Improvement Stephen L. Davidow, MBA-HCM, CPHQ, APR, will cover three common forms of root-cause analysis, discuss the advantages of applying these methods to different circumstances and environments, and how root-cause analysis is used as the basis for creating and implementing ideas that lead to robust improvement. Click here to register.

    The Mountain Area Health Education Center, Inc. ( Family Practice Residency program is hosting the Southeastern Summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), “The Art of Healing ACEs” on Oct. 19-21 in AshevilleLearn more and register.

    Save the Date for the 29th Annual Fall Foliage Cancer Conference focusing on Updates on Breast and Prostate Cancers, at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, Oct. 20-21, 2017Learn more.

    The Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse will hold an educational event on Oct. 25 in Rocky Mount in Nash County. Presenter James Finch, MD, will provide relevant information on prescribing opioids safely with a focus on strategies for reducing adverse outcomes resulting from inappropriate prescribing, misuse and abuse of opioids.  CME will be offered at this free event. Learn more here.

    The Governor’s Institute will hold a training session: “Responding to the Opioid Epidemic: Guidance for Healthcare Providers” in Henderson on Oct. 26 from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Learn more and register. 

    The Healthcare Financial Management Association will hold its 2017 Health Insurance Institute on Oct. 26-27 in Greensboro. This is an opportunity to hear the latest on claims processing developments, current issues and problems affecting plan benefits and health insurance claims from payers such as NC Medicaid/NC Tracks, Cigna, United Healthcare, BCBS, Palmetto GBA and MedCost. Learn more and register.

    Spaces are still available for the 2017 AMPAC Campaign School that will be taking place Oct. 27-29 at the AMA Office in Washington, DC. The school is targeted to AMA members, their spouses, residents, medical students and medical society staff who want to become more involved in the campaign process. For more information or to apply visit: or contact us at:

    Registration is open for the 2017 High Country Care Transitions Summit on Friday, Nov. 3 in Wilkesboro, NC. To learn more and register, click here or visit website

    Caravan Health will present its second annual Accountable Care Symposium on Dec. 6-7 in Phoenix, AZ at the Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. The symposium is a learning and networking event for current and future participants in Advanced Payment Models. Registration for the symposium opens Tuesday, August 1, 2017.  For more information, please visit

    MAHEC, working with the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, The Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse and Project Lazarus: A Project of CCNC, is offering A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain, an online education course. The course is designed for all prescribing health care practitioners who are interested in an overview of the rational prescribing approaches for persons with chronic pain disorders. It will fulfill the North Carolina Medical Board’s requirement of at least one hour of continuing education designed specifically to address prescribing practices for chronic pain management. The course cost is $15 for the first 6 months. Offers 3 hours of AAFP, AMA/AAFP Equivalency, and CDE;

    NCTracks has Computer-Based Training (CBT) courses on a variety of topics available to providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Anyone who is a registered user with NCID access to the NCTracks secure Provider Portal can access and take a self-paced course. A list of courses available can be found here and under Quick Links on the NCTracks Provider Training page of the public Provider Portal.

  • United Healthcare Delays Termination of Consultation Codes Indefinitely

    Thanks to the quick and effective advocacy on your behalf by the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), UnitedHealthcare announced that implementation of the revised “Consultation Services Reimbursement Policy,” originally slated to begin on Oct. 1, has been delayed indefinitely.

    “In an effort to give care providers more time to adjust to potential changes in their submission of procedure codes for consultation services, UnitedHealthcare will be delaying implementation of the revisions to the Reimbursement Policy for services reported with consultation codes 99241-99245 and 99251-99255,” the health plan reported its October network bulletin. The Bulletin indicates the policy is on hold until “further notice.”

    We will continue to monitor the situation and report any changes immediately. Watch your NCMS Bulletin and email for updates.

  • BCBSNC Explains How It Will Recoup Overpayments for Bilateral Codes

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) recently informed practices that it is working to resolve a technical system issue causing the overpayment of claims for bilateral procedures. The issue is limited to claims processed for BCBSNC’s under age-65, individual and small group members. Not all claims reporting multiple units on surgical procedures for these members are affected.

    BCBSNC said they have identified the problem and are working to fix it, but in the meantime a manual process has been put in place to prevent further overpayments from being issued. This manual process began on Sept. 22, 2017.

    They also are working to locate all processed claims for bilateral surgical procedures reporting units greater than one, which resulted in overpayments being issued. These queries review claims processed over the last 24 months. Claims identified to have been issued overpayments will be adjusted according to the providers’ contractual agreements.

    The message requested that if the practice had not already refunded the overpaid amount, the recoupment request should arrive in early October. BCBSNC asked that practices wait until receiving the request to refund the amount. They also cautioned that the manual process is a temporary fix and a few claims might overpay until the permanent fix is installed. They anticipate this will be completed in November.

    “We apologize for any inconveniences this technical system issue creates for you, and we appreciate your ongoing patience as we continue our work to resolve it,” the message said, directing any questions or need for assistance to BCBSNC’s customer service line: 1-800-214-4844.

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Solution Center also stands ready to help if necessary. Call the Solution Center at 919-833-3836 x142.

  • Welcome New Hanover Regional Medical Center Physicians and Physician Assistants!

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) extends a warm welcome to New Hanover Regional Medical Center physicians and physician assistants. Thanks to the vision of NHRMC leadership, we’re pleased that all physicians and physician assistants are now part of the NCMS community. We look forward to meeting and working with you.

    Many NHRMC physicians and physician assistants are longtime NCMS members, including NCMS Board of Directors member Philip Brown, MD, NHRMC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive, who is an alumnus of our Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership’s Leadership College. Bringing all of the hospital’s physicians and physician assistants into the NCMS fold represents an evolving membership model for the NCMS, and recognition of the value NCMS membership brings to physicians and physician assistants.

    “We value all our members. The membership benefits we offer — from award-winning leadership development programs to advocacy to being a regulatory watchdog — assist everyone in achieving what is best for the medical community and the patients of North Carolina,” said NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson. “We are delighted to welcome New Hanover Regional Medical Center to our growing membership, and look forward to working with them to accomplish positive and innovative goals for health care in our state. Welcome!”

  • Get the NCMS’ Take on the Federal Health Care Debate; NC Legislature Reconvenes Today

    North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Senior Vice President for Advocacy Chip Baggett sums up what you need to know about health care policy discussions at both the federal and state level in his latest Bowtie Briefing video. Watch it now.

    Read the NCMS’ summary of the US Senate’s now dead Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal and, more importantly, our long-standing priorities for any national health care legislation.

    For a live update on Tuesday, Oct. 17, Baggett will be the featured speaker on the NCMS and NC Medical Group Management Association’s Lunch and Learn Webinar from noon to 1 p.m. The webinar is free, but you must register. Register now.