A Look at Trends Among Commercial Providers and the Post-Pandemic Landscape
From APTA Magazine: "It's difficult to imagine a more complex crisis than the months-long, ongoing public health emergency we have been experiencing. Nevertheless, anticipating its likely effects on physical therapist practice in the coming weeks, months, and even years is critical." This Compliance Matters article breaks down the major themes that are likely to emerge in the months to come.
Busting Myths Around Telehealth Claims Audits
As part of her series debunking payment myths, APTA Director of Regulatory Affairs Kara Gainer sets the record straight on the importance of proper telehealth claims — and the amount of attention CMS is paying to them.
Over 5 Million COVID-19 Cases in U.S. So Far, Deaths Top 160,000
CDC reported 5,119,711 cases of COVID-19 as of August 13, an increase of 55,540 cases over the previous day. In addition, there were 1,244 new deaths, for a total of 163,651.
Recovery From COVID-19 Can Take a Long Time, Even for Those With Mild Illness
Results of a phone survey featured in a July 31 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicate that over a third of symptomatic adults who had a positive outpatient test for COVID-19 — one in five for those 18-34 with no chronic conditions — had not returned to normal health at two to three weeks after testing.
FDA Expands Warning on Chemicals in Hand Sanitizers
The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers and health professionals about certain hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but have tested positive for 1-propanol, a chemical that can be toxic and life-threatening when ingested. The agency warned in June about the presence of methanol in some sanitizers, exposure to which could result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.
FDA has expanded its do-not-use list of hand sanitizers at www.fda.gov/unsafehandsanitizers. While many of the brands are produced in Mexico or China, some are produced in the U.S. FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers, and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.
In the Media
COVID-19 Rates Will Surge in Midwest States
From The Guardian: "Modeling by the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shows that coronavirus cases are likely to rise sharply across the Midwest through August. 'It is clear now that from Indiana, through Ohio and into Kentucky and Missouri, as well as northward into Illinois and Michigan, there is substantial increased risk throughout the region,' it said."
IHME Predicts Nearly 300,00 Americans Could Die From COVID-19 by December
From CNN: "Researchers [at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation] behind an influential model are projecting that the US death toll from coronavirus could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 — but that can be changed if Americans consistently wear masks."
Neurological and Psychological Effects of COVID-19 Are Long-Lasting
From Stat: "As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections, experts told STAT, reflecting a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain. Beyond the fatigue felt by 'long haulers' as they heal post-COVID, these neuropsychological problems range from headache, dizziness, and lingering loss of smell or taste to mood disorders and deeper cognitive impairment. Dating to early reports from China and Europe, clinicians have seen people suffer from depression and anxiety. Muscle weakness and nerve damage sometimes mean they can't walk."
Telehealth Spike "Levels Off" But Still High Among Medicare Patients
From MedPage Today: "Based on early experience with Medicare primary care telehealth at the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, there is evidence that Medicare's new telehealth flexibilities played a critical role in helping to maintain access to primary health care services — when many beneficiaries and providers were concerned with transmission of COVID-19," the authors noted. "The stable and sustained use of telehealth after in-person primary care visits that started to resume in mid-April suggests there may be continued demand for telehealth in Medicare, even after the pandemic ends."
New in Research
COVID-19 Relief Funding Formula May Have "Disparate Impact" on Black Populations
In a Research Letter in JAMA, authors estimate that disproportionately Black counties received more funding than other counties. However, among counties receiving the same funding, disproportionately Black counties had higher COVID-19 burden, more comorbidities, and worse hospital finances than other counties. "Policy makers should consider aligning funding with measures of need rather than revenue, which would increase both equity and economic efficiency," authors write.
PTJ Podcast: COVID-19 and Advancing Digital Physical Therapist Practice
PTJ Editor-in-Chief Alan Jette explores "digital practice" with Alan Lee, PT, DPT, PhD, the World Health Organization's Digital Physical Therapy Task Force chair, and Lesley Holdsworth, PhD, FCSP, MCSP, DPT, SRP, the national clinical leader in the Scottish Government Digital Health and Care Division. Lee and Holdsworth are uniquely positioned to address what currently are known about feasibility and benefits, limitations, the impact of regulatory frameworks, and patient responses to digital practice. Lee is author of “COVID-19 and the Advancement of Digital Physical Therapist Practice and Telehealth,” published in the July issue of PTJ.
Study Identifies Effective N95 Alternatives
Researchers studied 29 fitted face mask alternatives for filtration efficiency. Expired N95 respirators with intact elastic bands and masks that had been subjected to ethylene oxide and hydrogen peroxide sterilization performed as well as new N95s. N95 respirators in the wrong size had slightly decreased efficiency. Surgical and procedure masks had lower efficiency compared with N95 respirators, with masks secured with elastic ear loops showing the lowest performance.