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Practicing Medicine Providing Care COVID-19

COVID-19

COVID-19 updates

Supporting osteopathic physicians on the front lines

Get the latest tools, news and updates to help you navigate the global pandemic.

As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread domestically and abroad, the AOA’s top priority remains supporting the needs of the nation’s 151,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students. We have assembled the following resources to help you navigate the global health crisis—whether you are caring for patients as a frontline provider or supporting in other ways. This page will be regularly updated as new information and resources become available.

The Latest

AOA offers COVID-19 Clinical Challenge webinar series on-demand

The AOA is offering a series of on-demand webinars titled The COVID-19 Clinical Challenge: Core Principles & Practices for Osteopathic Physicians. Three webinars (with a fourth coming soon) are available on AOA Online Learning free of charge and have each been designated for 0.25 AOA Category 1-B credits. Learn more.

Use the new AOA Navigator tool to find COVID-19 information and resources

To help the osteopathic community navigate through the impact of COVID-19 on their practice of medicine, the AOA has developed a new resource called AOA Navigator. Users can fill out a form to request assistance with specific pandemic-related issues. Learn more.

Submit nominees for the AOA’s new COVID-19 Initiative Award

In recognition of individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding contributions and unique services to the osteopathic community during COVID-19, the American Osteopathic Association Board of Trustees has announced a new AOA COVID-19 Initiative Award.

The submission process is open to individuals, osteopathic affiliates and partner organizations in the following four categories: student, resident, physician-in-practice, and organization. To apply or submit a nomination, please submit a completed application no later than Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

AOA provides members with discount on KN95 and 3-ply surgical masks

To assist the osteopathic community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AOA has reached an exclusive agreement with Nexvoo to provide AOA members with a special discount on FDA Crisis Authorized KN95 and 3-ply surgical masks. Reduced pricing is available for purchase of KN95 masks in quantities of 100 or 1,000 and for 3-ply masks in quantities of 1,000. Learn more

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Select an option below to view the latest COVID-19 updates and resources:

Advocacy & Financial Relief

CMS releases Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule for 2021

On Aug. 3 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule and supporting fact sheet that announces and solicits public comments on proposed policy changes for Medicare payments under the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), and other Medicare Part B issues, on or after Jan. 1, 2021. Learn more.

America’s frontline physicians urge administration to affirm the role of the CDC in protecting public health

This letter, written on behalf of 600,000 physicians and medical students represented by six medical associations including the AOA, requests that the administration affirm the role of the CDC as the key agency charged with protecting public health, both during pandemics and under normal circumstances. Learn more.

AOA letter to Congress sharing policy recommendations on behalf of physicians and patients

On June 17, the AOA called on Congress to preserve patient access to care both during the COVID-19 pandemic and after, and provide additional financial support to physicians so that they will be able to continue providing quality patient care. Read the letter.

Key provisions for physicians in the newly proposed HEROES Act

Work is currently underway to develop the next round of federal COVID-19 legislation. Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the HEROES Act. The proposed $3 trillion package would include significant funding and policies which would cover many sectors of the economy and society overall. Negotiations with the Senate and White House are ongoing.

Notably, the bill includes a handful of funding and policy recommendations that the AOA requested in a letter to Congressional leaders in April. Learn more.

How we’re advocating on behalf of DOs and medical students

While courageous osteopathic physicians and students are on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the AOA is advocating to protect you and your patients. Learn more.

Two AOA/AOIA financial relief webinars available on YouTube (CME available)

David Pugach, JD, AOA Senior Vice President, Public Policy, provides an overview of currently available federal financial programs available for physicians and physician practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch now

Learn how the Paycheck Protection Program can benefit physicians, especially those who run smaller practices. Jayme Matchinski, JD, shares steps you should take to prepare for the next round of the program. Watch now

Lantern: Search & apply for loans with this new member resource

The American Osteopathic Information Association (AOIA) recently launched Lantern, an online marketplace from SoFi that enables users to search and apply for loans.

AOA’s COVID-19 advocacy efforts continue

Updates include information on payment parity between phone and office visits, student loan forgiveness, and medical leave benefits for health professionals.

Senate passes legislation with new SBA funding

From what was being reported on Tuesday, April 21, it appears that a deal is in the process of being finalized between Congressional leaders and the White House on a $500 billion package that Congress will vote on this week.

The package will likely include $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. What is still unclear is whether the program’s requirements are being modified in any way, such as including 501(c)(6) organizations, or if the package will be limited to the infusion of additional resources. There will likely also be money included for Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loans, which 501(c)(6) organizations are eligible for.

This package, being referred to as COVID 3.5 as it is widely seen as an interim step before the next comprehensive legislative package, is also expected to include $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion to support increased testing and contact tracing for COVID-19.

The Senate could approve this package as early as this afternoon by a voice vote. The House will likely require a recorded vote, which could take place on Thursday. The Paycheck Protection Program would be able to start accepting loan applications as soon as the president signs the legislation into law, which would likely be soon after House passage.

An update will be provided when additional details are available.

HHS issues $30 billion in direct deposits to hospitals and health care providers enrolled in Medicare

On April 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began delivering $30 billion in relief funding to support hospitals and health care providers enrolled in the Medicare program. Learn more about key provisions on eligibility and distribution of payments.

What the CARES Act means for physicians

The AOA Public Policy team reviewed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and identified the most relevant provisions for physicians and medical students. Physician practices seeking financial assistance should visit the Small Business Administration website, which offers a link to approved lenders.

AOA urges Congress to address shortage of PPE for physicians

The AOA continues to implore members of Congress to address the growing shortage of PPE for physicians and the need to provide health care professionals with paid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Equipment currently needed are N95 respirators, gowns, surgical masks, eye protection, and intensive care unit (ICU) equipment. Without continuous access to these critical items, safety for both patients and providers will be greatly jeopardized, which could lead to overall worse outcomes and the continual spread of the virus,” the AOA stated in a letter to Congress earlier this week.

Share your story

We know that many of you are caring for patients despite a shortage of safety equipment and other essential supplies, while potentially contending with a lack of sick leave or other financial concerns. It is important to us that we hear directly from our members to help serve you best, and even more important that your members of Congress hear directly from you.

Take action

Through your feedback, we know that COVID-19 is causing stress, shortages in PPE and overloading our public health system. The AOA has activated two grassroots initiatives to increase public pressure on lawmakers. Here’s how you can help:

Federal & state advocacy

The AOA’s advocacy activity related to COVID-19 includes the following:

Financial relief

The U.S. Small Business Administration has released information about financial relief for small businesses, including private practices.

Telemedicine

Telehealth updates and resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in demand for telehealth services, enabling physicians to provide patients with care in the current era of social distancing. Our Telemedicine section is the go-to source for the latest tools and recommendations for adopting telehealth in your practice.

On-demand webinars

The AOA and AOIA have produced a series of telemedicine webinars to provide assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Practice guide

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the AOA created a practice guide highlighting telehealth updates to aid physicians with implementation in their practices.

Telemedicine licensing regulations

Looking for information on current telehealth and licensing regulations in your state? View a state-by-state breakdown.

Patient Care

COVID-19 physician/patient notes for employers

The AOA Physician Services Department has heard that members are writing numerous work notes for patients. We’ve developed these template notes to lessen the administrative burden facing our busy physicians to help them provide documentation in a timely manner. View the PDF versions with AOA watermarks, or download the Word versions to customize them for your practice.

Exclusive opportunity for AOA members: New patient safety card that leverages QR technology

The AOA is proud to announce an exclusive joint patient safety initiative with The Broselow Institute to introduce Emergency and Telemedicine Safety Cards to our members and their patients at no cost. The cards, which leverage patented barcode technology, provide an innovative way to support patient safety during acute transitions of care and with telemedicine visits. Learn more.

AABB website informs patients & clinicians about convalescent plasma donation

Following the FDA’s announcement of new guidelines permitting the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) as an investigational treatment for COVID-19 patients, AABB has launched a new website focused on connecting patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to accredited blood and plasma donation centers. The website includes information about donation eligibility and a link to AABB’s blood bank locator. AABB is an international not-for-profit association representing professionals and institutions involved in the fields of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies.

Treating patients with substance abuse disorder during the pandemic

Access resources and information from government agencies and osteopathic affiliates focused on caring for patients with substance use disorder, chronic pain or mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OMM/OMT

New e-Learning CME on OMM techniques that provide relief for COVID-19

We are excited to partner with the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO) to offer an online learning activity to help you review applicable OMM techniques for optimizing pulmonary function in COVID-19 or suspected  COVID-19 patients.  The e-Learning module, titled, “Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) Techniques Addressing Respiratory Symptoms of COVID-19” will provide a refresher in applicable OMM techniques. Free for all members and non-members, the patient-centered CME will offer 1.0 AOA 1-B credit or 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.  Learn more and enroll today.

On-demand CME

Search AOA & affiliate on-demand CME activities

With all in-person CME conferences cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, many physicians and medical students are looking to on-demand resources for education opportunities. The AOA CME Search provides a searchable listing of on-demand and live CME programs, including education offerings from the AOA and affiliate organizations.

Courses now available include:

Many of our on-demand webinars are later uploaded to the AOA YouTube channel, where they can be viewed for free (with no CME).

Additional on-demand CME programming can be accessed on docme.org.

On-demand CME: Frontline perspectives on COVID-19 & OMM

The AOA and American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO) are partnering to offer an online learning activity featuring first-hand accounts from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hugh M. Ettlinger, DO, an OMM residency director at Saint Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, New York, shares surprising insights from treating COVID-19 patients with OMM. Earn 0.75 AOA 1-B credit or 0.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. Get started.

Free SelfStudy course for frontline COVID-19 physicians

This FREE self-guided course, offered by International Society of Travel Medicine’s Professional Education Committee and hosted on SelfStudy’s education platform, is designed for busy clinicians. Complete short learning segments focused on epidemiology, risk factors for severe disease, therapeutics and personal protection for healthcare workers.

Bureau of Emerging Leaders provides list of online CME options

Officers of the AOA’s Bureau of Emerging Leaders recently compiled a listing of online CME and learning resources for DOs and osteopathic medical students. The list includes COVID-19 education and resources, as well as specialty-focused learning opportunities. View the list on The DO.

PPE

DOs develop DIY guide to create P100 respirator mask with 3D printer

Steve Martin, DO, and James R. Latronica, DO, residents at the Clarion Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program in Clarion, Pennsylvania, have developed a design for a P100 respirator mask, called the Unity, and an instruction manual to make it using a 3D printer.

Thanks in part to a grant from the American Osteopathic Information Association and the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Foundation, the design and instruction manual, which includes a supply list, suggested budget and a detailed step-by-step tutorial, is available free-of-charge for download.

COVID-19 Research

Free access to COVID-19 articles from International Anesthesia Research Society

In response to the current global coronavirus pandemic, the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) is sourcing and providing access to the most current and relevant articles related to COVID-19, including studies with future publication dates. Most are available without requiring login to their respective journals. Content will be updated daily. Learn more.

Licensure & Credentialing

Expedited credentialing and waived licensing requirements

Many states have eased licensing requirements to allow more physicians to help meet the growing healthcare needs of the pandemic. AOA members can send their AOA Profile to all state medical boards at no cost; and non-members only pay a nominal fee. This benefit can enable you to serve in areas of need more quickly through expedited credentialing. Get started.

Consult the Federation of State Medical Boards for a detailed list of states expediting licenses for inactive or retired physicians to return to practice during the pandemic, as well as a list of states temporarily waiving licensure requirements.

Physician Wellness

AOA/AOIA wellness webinar now available on YouTube

On May 7, AOA/AOIA hosted a webinar titled “Health & Wellness During the Pandemic,” which included a variety health strategies, from general tips on sleep and healthy eating to ways to stay fit during the pandemic.

It also included information and resources on social and emotional wellness. View the presentation slides, or watch for free (with no CME) on YouTube. To get CME credit, viewers must register through AOA Online Learning.

National Academy of Medicine shares strategies to support physician wellness

Recognizing the likelihood that the COVID-19 crisis may exacerbate existing levels of burnout and mental health stressors, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has compiled a list of strategies and resources to support the health and well-being of clinicians providing health care during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wellness apps offer free access during COVID-19

Recognizing the need to help health care workers manage the stress of being on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic, several wellness apps are now offering free access.

  • Calm is currently offering a discounted one-year subscription, through AOA Member Deals, for $29.99 (usually $69.99). Register now.
  • Headspace is currently offering all healthcare providers free access to premium content, including guided exercises to reduce stress, increase movement and promote sleep. Register now.
  • Ten Percent Happier is offering health care workers unlimited access to app content, including live events, podcasts and personal coaching. Register now
  • Sanvello has opened all premium content to the public, including modules on self care, peer support, coaching and therapy. Register now.

AOA Board Certification

AOA announces one-year extension of board eligibility

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) and division of Certifying Board Services (CBS) announced a one-year extension of board eligibility status will be granted to graduating residents and other physicians seeking initial certification or recertification in 2020, among other policy changes, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more.

CBS will provide assistance for resident physicians impacted by exam postponements

The CBS team is working to assist program directors with information and updates and will be ready to support residency graduates with expedited board certification once training requirements are met so that delays in board certification are avoided.

Billing & Coding/CMS Updates

CMS releases second COVID-19 interim final rule

On April 30, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a second interim final rule (IFR) along with a press release to further modify and support regulatory changes implemented during COVID-19. Learn more.

CMS announces changes to Accelerated Payment Program, launches telehealth toolkit

Get the latest CMS COVID-19 regulatory updates from the week of April 27, along with call-in information for this week’s stakeholder calls.

COVID-19 updates from HHS & CMS, week of April 20-24

HHS announced the release of provider relief funds and launched a new telehealth toolkit, while CMS issued additional guidance on prior authorization and utilization management, and Medicare enrollment for hospitals. Learn more.

New COVID-19 ICD-10-CM diagnosis code

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code (U07.1) for the virus. Providers should use this new diagnosis code, where appropriate, for discharges on or after April 1, 2020.

In addition, CMS has updated the ICD-10 MS-DRG GROUPER software package to accommodate the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code currently available on the CMS MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage. This updated GROUPER software package (V37.1 R1) replaces the GROUPER software package V37.1 that was developed in response to the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code U07.0 for vaping-related disorders, also effective for discharges on and after April 1, 2020. For detailed information regarding the assignment of new diagnosis code U07.1, COVID-19, under the ICD-10 MS-DRGs, visit the MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage. The announcement is located under the “Latest News” heading.

For additional Medicare Fee-For-Service information, refer to the updated MLN Matters Articles:

CMS applies extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy for MIPS in response to COVID-19

CMS will automatically identify individual, group and virtual group participants in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program who do not submit their MIPS performance data by the extended April 30th deadline, and apply the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy instead of issuing a negative payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year.

If you have started the MIPS data submission process, but are now unable to complete it due to the impact of COVID-19, you will have until 8 p.m., ET on April 30, 2020 to complete an application for extreme and uncontrollable circumstances. When completing the application, make sure that you:

  • Select 1/1/2020 and 4/30/2020 as your start and end dates;
  • Indicate that you are unable to complete your 2019 performance year data submission due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Select all four MIPS performance categories for re-weighting

An application citing COVID-19 will override any previous data submission.  If your application is approved, all four MIPS performance categories will be re-weighted and you will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 payment year.  For more information, please see the Quality Payment Program COVID-19 Response Fact Sheet, or contact the Quality Payment program at (866) 288-8292, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET or by e-mail at: QPP@cms.hhs.gov.

CMS expands telehealth, waivers and new rules to address COVID-19

On March 30, as part of the ongoing effort to address the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued several additional temporary regulatory waivers and new rules for physicians and other clinicians. At the same time, CMS also released an Interim Final Rule with comment period outlining further changes for Medicare and Medicaid programs. The changes are effective immediately for the duration of the emergency declaration. Learn more about these additional waivers and rules.

CMS national stakeholder calls on COVID-19

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been hosting regular calls with a variety of clinicians, hospitals, other facilities, and states in an effort to keep stakeholders updated on COVID-19 efforts. Since everyone is not available to attend the calls live, you can access recordings and transcripts of the calls on the CMS website.

CMS accelerates advance payments for Medicare providers to combat COVID-19

On March 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat COVID-19. This program expansion, which includes changes from the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is only for the duration of the public health emergency to minimize financial hardship caused by the disruption in claims submission or claims processing. Learn how to request payment.

Coding for COVID-19 testing

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has adopted the following Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes to use for COVID-19 testing.

  • UOOO1 – 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel should be used when specimens are sent to the CDC and CDC-approved local/state health department laboratories.
  • UOOO2 – 2019-nCoV Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19), any technique, multiple types or subtypes (includes all targets), non-CDC should be used when specimens are sent to commercial laboratories, e.g. Quest or LabCorp, and not to the CDC or CDC-approved local/state health department laboratories.

For more information, visit the CMS website and its recently issued FAQ. To view a more comprehensive list of COVID-19 codes, visit the Aetna website.

Insurance Guide

COVID-19 Information Hub and Insurance Guide for physicians

Physician offices have unique insurance needs, especially during a pandemic. AOA Insurance, powered by Gallagher, offers two resources to assist physicians during the public health crisis. The COVID-19 Information Hub provides updates on business and human resources coverage. In addition, Gallagher’s guide to Responding to the Coronavirus will prepare you to review key insurance policies and business continuity plans.

Osteopathic Medical Students

Osteopathic medical students may be graduating early to fight COVID-19

The AOA’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), which accredits the nation’s 38 osteopathic medical schools, will allow colleges of osteopathic medicine to offer early graduation to certain medical students in their fourth year to increase the health care workforce fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

State of Emergency Declarations

View your state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration

The President’s emergency and major disaster declarations make states eligible for federal funding, including reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for costs associated with measures taken to save lives and to protect public health and safety. View the full list of state declarations.


The DO: How to do telemedicine in the time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is ushering in a new era for telehealth. Expert Michael Brown, DO, goes over the new rules and the basics.

Read more

The DO: Nonpracticing DO will rejoin the clinical workforce to battle COVID-19

“There’s a real need to have people come back and help battle this thing,” says Jeff Dunn, DO, MBA.

Read more

Past updates

COVID-19 Updates (Week of Aug. 26, 2020)
“You always wonder, is this the day it’s going to go south?” said Brian Rogers, DO, MPH, a family physician in Dallas.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of Aug. 5, 2020)
Peer support is essential, attest the two DOs, who also share the additional routines and habits they have in place to prioritize their wellness.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of July 22, 2020)
While much remains unknown about COVID-19 immunity, a renowned DO immunologist shares the best information we have at this time.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of June 3, 2020)
DOs discuss the mental health challenges of practicing medicine in the time of COVID-19, ways to reduce stress, and the pros and cons of transitioning to a nonclinical role.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of May 27, 2020)
OB-GYN DOs talk about labor, delivery and prenatal care during COVID-19.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of May 13, 2020)
Mona Masood, DO, founded the Physician Support Line as an outlet for physicians struggling with the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of April 29, 2020)
Doctor Mike and Jen Caudle, DO, talk about the importance of vetting information and share advice for DOs on breaking bad news.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of April 22, 2020)
DOs and osteopathic medical students working and volunteering in the American city with the worst COVID-19 outbreak share their experiences.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of April 15, 2020)
“We were at the forefront of the wave of giving people an opportunity to get tested early, and then quarantining them to try to flatten the curve,” Eugene Allen, DO, says.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of April 8, 2020)
“There’s a lot of confusion about when you need to get evaluated. Of course, that can be even more challenging for someone who’s uninsured or homeless,” says Richard Bryce, DO, a family physician in Detroit.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of April 1, 2020)
“The vibe in the ED is definitely different than I’ve ever experienced,” says Alexis Cates, DO, an emergency physician in Philadelphia.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of March 25, 2020)
The DO speaks with an emergency physician on the frontlines of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of March 18, 2020)
Everyday life across the country has dramatically changed as cases skyrocket. The DO speaks with an infectious diseases specialist in Oregon about his observations.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of March 11, 2020)
The WHO officially declares the virus a pandemic, and The DO discusses the situation with a family physician who focuses on infectious diseases.

COVID-19 Updates (Week of March 4, 2020)
Learn the latest COVID-19 developments as cases continue to grow in the U.S. and abroad.

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