Connect eNewsletter May Edition

Did You Know?

By Dr. William Whibbs (May 2007)

Recently, Health First Network partnered with a host of leading community organizations to sponsor “Breathe Life, Not Tobacco,” an event aimed at educating children and young adults about the dangers of smoking.

This collaborative initiative, which spanned three days, featured Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds and national advocate for a smoke-free society. Reynolds underscored that tobacco kills and smoking leads to the premature death of more than 350,000 people annually. Roughly 10,000 students in Escambia and Santa Rosa County, as well as 4,000 Navy sailors, heard his message loud and clear.

Evidence-based research shows this type of intervention, striving to educate people and change their behavior, can be effective in altering lifestyle choices. There is sufficient, concise clinical evidence and systematic reviews that have found simple advice from a physician during routine consultation increased the number of smokers who quit smoking and didn’t relapse for a year.

Several Clinical Practice Guidelines offer valuable information to assist physicians in discussing smoking cessation and the dangers of smoking with patients.

For those who don’t know, Medicare and WellCare reimburse physicians for smoking cessation counseling. Information regarding billing codes is on the web (http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MLNproducts/downloads/smoking.pdf). The billing codes for Medicare coverage of smoking cessation counseling are:

  • G0375 - Smoke/Tobacco counseling of 3-10 minutes
  • G0376 - Smoke/Tobacco counseling > than 10 minutes.
  • ICD-9 - diagnosis code for tobacco use disorder is 305.

Research reveals that most smokers will make four to seven attempts to quit and that they are often unprepared to deal with the withdrawals and cravings spurred by nicotine deprivation. The silver lining: many resources are available to support patients.

GlaxoSmithKline promotes products such as Commit, Nicoderm CQ, and Nicorette, forms of therapeutic nicotine that can increase patient’s chances of quitting smoking by addressing both sides of their addiction – nicotine cravings and habit. The GSK smoking cessation program, “Way 2 Quit” kit, smoker’s helpline (877-NO-ASHES), and website (www.way2quit.com) are excellent resources for smokers who want to quit.

A pharmaceutical contact interested in working with Health First Network physicians to assist them in counseling patients to quit smoking is Betsy H. Dubose, healthcare specialists with GSK. Dubose is a trained smoking cessation counselor and is happy to provide further information. She can be reached at 800-873-8867, ext. 9571.

Another resource to help adults who wish to stop smoking is the Pfizer prescription medication, Chantix ( verenicline tablets). Chantix has a “GetQuit” Support Plan that can provide additional support and motivation to patients. For information on Chantix, go to the website www.chantix.com or contact Pfizer representative Bill Sullivan at William.sullivan@pfizer.com.

Smoking cessation products available by prescription to your patients vary considerably by health plan formularies, as well as by different “tiers” within a patient’s health plan formulary. Different payors might cover some or most of these products. Those covered by VISTA Health Plan’s tiered drug system vary from those covered by different Medicare PDP’s, or by WellCare’s or HealthEase’s formulary plans. Currently, covered smoking cessation products on the HealthEase formulary include Nicotrol Transderm and ZYBAN Generic. The WellCare formulary covers Nicotrol NS.


ClearWave Kiosk: Gulf Coast Physician Partners Integrates Innovative Technology

May 2007

Picture the electronic kiosk at the airport, then picture its equivalent in physician offices across the country. This reality might be just around the corner. As a matter of fact, it’s happening in Northwest Florida, at Gulf Coast Physician Partners, thanks in part to Health First Network.

A little more about the product first: Clearwave is an electronic network and kiosk that reduces costs with patient self-check-in and automatic eligibility verification. This innovative, HIPAA compliant technology queries health plans real time to determine a patients eligibility and benefits with the simple swipe of a card.

Using the Clearwave network and kiosk simplifies administrative and clinical processes giving providers a return on investment by delivering these benefits:

  • Improved check-in/check-out
  • No need for sign-in sheets
  • Enhanced patient profile via the Clearwave card
  • Reduced claims submissions for non-eligible patients
  • Payment at the time of service based on real-time eligibility information
  • Integration with current or new credit card processing system
  • Reduced staff time and office supplies
  • Fewer errors

Gulf Coast Physician Partners realized these benefits almost immediately. Since introducing Clearwave earlier this year, the practice has met with tremendous success. “We have reduced our denial rate from 12 to six percent or below ever since introducing Clearwave,” said Kim Davis, Executive Director of Gulf Coast Physician Partners. “We’ve also transitioned an employee, who used to devote all of her time to researching patient coverage, to work the front desk, making check-in that much faster.”

Now, back to Health First Network and the role it played in piloting this product in Pensacola. Acting on its promise to support and be a resource to physicians, Network leadership discovered, researched, and negotiated a reduced group rate for affiliate practices.

Physicians interested in learning more about or possibly purchasing Clearwave are encouraged to contact Davis Bruggeman directly by calling 678.738.1125 or by e-mailing him at DBruggeman@clearwaveinc.com for additional information.


Health First Network Sends a Message of Good Health to Fourth Graders

May 2007

Health First Network is committed to helping build a healthier community, beginning with children. Toward this end, the organization has led a series of initiatives over the past few years – most recently by sponsoring and introducing a new children’s book, Living Healthy, Feeling Good.

Written by John H. Appleyard, this storybook came to life on April 19, at McArthur Elementary School in Pensacola when characters popped off the pages and into the school’s gym filled with fourth graders.

During this fun-filled, yet educational event, Appleyard signed and distributed copies of Living Healthy, Feeling Good, written to educate children about the tenets of good health. Building on this theme, stations were set up so students could experience good health up close and personal.

Health First Network’s Medical Director, Dr. William Whibbs, greeted students at one station, educating them about healthy habits such as proper hand washing techniques, immunizations, and exercise. Another station featured the gym coach with mats to help kids do exercises. Book characters and the tooth fairy made special guest appearances, and the school handed out the fruit of the month for kids to eat.

Living Healthy, Feeling Good is about a student that has an asthma attack on the playground and afterwards had difficulty breathing. Upon a visit to the school nurse, it is discovered the student has never had regular medical care. The school, in turn, tries to contact the parents, but cannot reach them. In the end, the school brings in a health care expert to teach students about asthma and overall good health.

Health First Network paid for the printing of Living Healthy, Feeling Good, which was distributed to fourth graders not only at McArthur but also every fourth grader in Escambia County. Now, that’s making a difference now and in the future.

Living Healthy, Feeling Good is part of a series of books devoted to public safety, health, and issues. Previous editions have highlighted topics ranging from electricity to law enforcement. Appleyard’s next book is slated to educate children about hospitals.


Reynolds Wrap-Up Story

May 2007

In late March, Health First Network sponsored “Breathe Life, Not Tobacco” – a three-day event featuring Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds and national advocate for a smoke-free society. This program reached 10,000 students and 4,000 sailors, shedding light on the inherent risks of smoking while, at the same time, offering hope for a bright future.

“Breathe Life, Not Tobacco” targeted youth but spilled over to the entire Northwest Florida community. During Reynolds visit, WSRE-TV produced a town hall meeting discussing the role tobacco plays in compromising the health of our community. Dr. Robert Kincaid, Assistant Medical Director of Health First Network, was among the panelists.

“We have received very positive feedback from community leaders, teachers, students, the Navy, and law enforcement,” said Robin Herr, President and CEO of Health First Network. “’Breathe Life, Not Tobacco’ was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with health and safety related organizations in our community and reach out to children in a big way.”


Health First Network Website Make-Over

May 2007

Health First Network recently redesigned its web site. We encourage physicians and administrators to check it out online at www.hfni.com. Find everything from the latest network news to coding tips to physician resources to past issues of Connect.