It’s Tuesday and time for your NCMS Morning Rounds

  August 4, 2020

NCDHHS Updates Antigen Testing Guidance

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, MD, MPH, issued updated guidance on antigen tests for COVID-19 on Friday. The new guidance is in response to the need for rapid results, supply chain challenges and molecular testing capacity issues, Dr. Moore noted in his memo to clinicians and laboratories.

Antigen tests are designed for rapid diagnosis of active infection by detecting viral proteins on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19 in clinical specimens. This test works similarly to a rapid flu test and produces results in about 15 minutes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two COVID-19 antigen tests, which are generally less sensitive than PCR-based methods.

Due to the lower sensitivity, antigen testing is best when there is a high pre-test probability of infection. Such testing should be considered for:
• Symptomatic individuals in whom COVID-19 is suspected.
• Symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in correctional facilities, long-term care facilities or other high risk, congregate settings where active cases have been confirmed as part of an active outbreak investigation.

Antigen testing is not appropriate for:
• Asymptomatic individuals not in high risk settings;
• Asymptomatic screening of individuals or populations;
• Screening of health care workers, emergency responders and other essential personnel;
• Population-based surveillance studies.

Read more about the updated guidance including steps to take after a positive or negative test result here.

Apply for NC Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

If you have successfully participated in the Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive program at least once and have not yet received six payments totaling nearly $64,000, you can return now to apply for the 2020 program year.

Unsure whether you’re eligible? A list of all who have participated at least once, but less than all six years, in the NC Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is available under the “Are You Eligible” tab on the program website. If you are not on the list and still unsure, please email the National Provider Identifier (NPI) at [email protected] to determine your eligibility.

For more details on these and additional program requirements, visit the program website.

Keep in mind, your regional Area Health Education Center (NC AHEC) offers free personalized assistance from a Practice Support Coach as well as technical assistance on meaningful use and the attestation process at no cost to you or your practice. NC AHEC staff can also help select, implement and optimize EHRs to improve the quality of patient care.

Attestation assistance is also available through a detailed attestation guide, an extensive library of answers to Frequently Asked Questions, a series of short webinars explaining different aspects of the attestation process, and a dedicated help desk available via email at [email protected] from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Two years remain to participate in the NC Medicaid EHR Incentive Program! For those meeting the eligibility requirements up to six incentive payments can total $63,750 through 2021. Participation years do not need to be consecutive.

Visit the NC Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment System (NC-MIPS) and attest for Program Year 2020 today! Questions? Please email [email protected] .

Invite your Colleagues to Join the NCMS – Membership Campaign Underway

The NCMS has launched a membership campaign to invite as many eligible non-members as possible to membership by the end of the year. Please help by spreading the word about the great work of the NCMS and our special campaign.

For more than 170 years, the NCMS has supported the medical community not just in times of crisis, but always. When COVID-19 hit our state, the NCMS mobilized immediately to provide medical professionals and practices with resources for economic relief; a turnkey, free platform for telemedicine; sources of scarce resources including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); and support for emotional exhaustion. We’ve provided Governor Cooper and the NC Department of Health and Human Services with data and manpower to address complex policy issues. And we’ve secured state funds for allocating PPE to medical practices.

And now, NCMS is making it as easy as possible for physicians and PAs to join as members. Until the end of the year, the NCMS is offering membership for both the remainder of 2020 and 2021 at the 2020 rate, which is 18 months of membership for $430. Encourage your colleagues to join now at!

In the News

How the Pandemic Defeated America, The Atlantic, September 2020

Groups Partner to Increase Diversity in Cancer Clinical Trials, Associations NOW, 7-31-20

Learning Opportunity

‘The Death of Expertise and What it Means for Public Health Today,’ on Wednesday, Aug. 19 from 4 to 4:45 p.m. will address the rejection of expertise in the Information Age where people are exposed to more information than ever before and the implications for public health institutions and professionals responding to COVID-19. This webinar will feature Tom Nichols, PhD, Sovietologist, author and professor at the U.S. Naval War College. Learn more and register.

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