It’s Tuesday and time for your NCMS Morning Rounds.

Jan. 26, 2021

NCMS Board Gets Special Update on COVID-19 Vaccine

At its meeting on Saturday, Jan. 23, the NCMS Board of Directors heard the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccine supply and administration from State Health Director Betsey Tilson, MD, MPH. Board members wanted to know how the NCMS can help the state facilitate administering the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Dr. Tilson told Board members that adequate vaccine supply is the major constraint in getting people vaccinated at this point and called on the NCMS to help get the facts out on the state’s efforts to ensure whatever vaccine is available is getting to the right people as efficiently as possible. She said the goal is to use all 127,000 doses the state receives each week in order to continue receiving that allocation from the federal government, which is watching to make sure all doses are administered and there is minimal waste. When considering there are 1.75 million North Carolinians in just the first two priority groups for the vaccine, the supply shortage is evident. Review the simplified priority groupings here.

“We need to show the feds that we can push it out and maybe we’ll get more,” she said, adding that right now it is unlikely more doses will be available. “The whole world is fighting for additional doses.”

As of Saturday morning, Dr. Tilson said the state is on track to use up its weekly allotment by Tuesday. Since the vaccine became available in December, approximately 527,000 first doses have been administered as of Saturday and about 86,000 second doses. She encouraged Board members to refer to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) vaccine dashboard for the most accurate data.

Since the state opened its COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS) earlier this month, Dr. Tilson said 3,164 organizations have initiated enrollment in the system, which would enable them to administer the vaccine. So far there are 620 provider location sites for the vaccine with a maximum number of 703 sites possible for direct allocation based on the number of vaccines available. She urged patience as the state must decide the most efficient sites for vaccine administration based on three criteria: ability of the site to do mass vaccinations; inclusion of historically marginalized populations and primary care locations.

Finally, she asked that everyone ‘grant grace,’ as this unprecedented situation unfolds.
“I know this has been frustrating,” she said. “But know that we are working so hard.”

Board members agreed that, given the current vaccine shortage, the prevention message must be especially forceful. Dr. Tilson encouraged the NCMS and its members to spread the message about the 3 ‘W’s of wearing a mask, washing hands and waiting six feet apart. For help in getting that message out, NCDHHS has a wealth of resources here.

This prevention message is even more urgent now as the first case of the new variant of the virus has been identified in the state. Given that this mutation seems to be more transmissible, Dr. Tilson forecast that North Carolina may see another surge in cases come March.

Medical Volunteers Needed to Help in COVID-19 Efforts

As reported previously in your NCMS Morning Rounds, if you are interested in volunteering to help in the state’s COVID-19 public health efforts – whether through testing, administering vaccines, data entry or other types of help, you need to go to NC Emergency Management’s Training, Exercise, Response Management (TERMS) site to create a profile and be vetted for a medical professional volunteer position. Access the site here.

For other types of volunteer opportunities, you can go to the ReadyNC website, which helps coordinate disaster relief volunteer services. Visit the site here.

Finally, you may also want to reach out to your local county health department about volunteer needs they may have.

NC Council on Health Care Coverage Finalizes Guiding Principles

The North Carolina Council on Health Care Coverage held its last meeting last Friday, in which the diverse group of council members, including NCMS Board of Directors member Merritt Seshul, MD, MBA, FACS and NCMS Executive Vice President and CEO Chip Baggett, JD, finalized guiding principles to help Governor Roy Cooper and legislative leaders as they consider options to increase affordable and comprehensive health coverage for North Carolinians.

The Council is convened by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, which is led by Mark McClellan, MD, PhD. Council members include bipartisan members of the General Assembly and representatives from a variety of sectors including business, nonprofit and health care.

Since beginning its work in December, the Council has heard from a variety of experts on issues such as Medicaid expansion, access to behavioral health services and options for private insurance market reform. The group has also examined the impact that the lack of coverage has had on businesses and employees in the state. During its meeting on Jan. 8, Council Members worked collaboratively developing draft guiding principles that were considered and approved at the final meeting on Jan. 22.

The principles include maximizing health coverage, ensuring program simplicity, enhancing the health of North Carolina and ensuring health system sustainability. The group also highlighted the importance of the efficient use of taxpayer dollars, strengthening rural communities, reducing disparities, expanding access to and coverage of behavioral health services and supporting the business community. The full list of final principles as well as a summary of the Council’s work will be compiled into a final report by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. The guiding principles will be shared with members of the North Carolina General Assembly and other leaders across the state.

Access all meeting materials, participant list and livestream recordings of each of the Council’s meetings here.

In The News

4 Key Trends For Payers and Providers In 2021, Health Care Dive, 1-22-21

Learning Opportunity

The Impact of Downtime on the Clinician and Patient Experience, On-Demand Webinar
Technology drives today’s modern health care systems. Because clinicians and patients rely on EHR systems and connected medical devices to help manage and deliver care, having reliable systems are of paramount importance—and any degradation or outage can greatly impact medical support staff and the patient care they deliver.

In this webinar, experts discuss:
-Why managing and remediating issues remains such a big challenge
-How issues negatively impact the clinician and patient experience
-How to significantly reduce issues and remediate them much faster when they do occur

Learn more and Register here.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!