ASE Statement on the Reintroduction of Echocardiography Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A group of ASE leaders prepared a very timely Statement on the Reintroduction of Echocardiography Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic to share with members and the entire cardiovascular ultrasound community. As the pandemic unfolded, many non-urgent echo studies were deferred in an attempt to reduce coronavirus transmission among patients and healthcare workers, conserve personal protective equipment (PPE), and prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. Although COVID-19 prevalence and new case trends continue to differ substantially by region, many facilities are now planning resumption of non-urgent and elective medical services. Safe and efficient reintroduction of outpatient echocardiography services will require consideration of appropriate timing of reopening based on projected COVID-19 case trends, prioritizing procedure scheduling based on current or change in disease acuity, applying exam protocols to address the clinical question while enhancing lab throughput, implementing appropriate PPE and sanitization protocols, and performing pre-procedural COVID-19 testing in certain patient cohorts.

ASE is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our members and the patients we serve. Judy Hung, MD, FASE (Chair), Theodore P. Abraham, MD, FASE, Meryl S. Cohen, MD, MS Ed, FASE, Michael L. Main, MD, FASE, Carol Mitchell, PhD, ACS, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, FASE, Vera H. Rigolin, MD, FASE, and Madhav Swaminathan, MD, FASE helped create this resource for sonographers, nurses, advance practice providers, and physicians who have a duty to care for patients.

Register today to join experts on June 5, 1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT for a live webinar. During this webinar, Dr. Judy Hung and a team of experts will address your questions based on this new statement. Once you register for the webinar, you will receive a link to a form to submit your questions in advance of the webinar. The experts will discuss issues relating to when to reopen, scheduling of deferred cases, protocol changes, PPE, and COVID-19 screening and testing. Learn more here.

ASE Supports Healthcare Workers’ Mental Health in Next Coronavirus Aid Package

Earlier this month, ASE was contacted by U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s office requesting support for providing mental health resources for frontline healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Healthcare workers are making enormous sacrifices every day to defeat this virus and ensuring access to the mental health resources needed is imperative. A bipartisan letter was sent to House leadership calling for the inclusion of enhanced mental health resources for healthcare workers in the next coronavirus aid package. ASE proudly supported this request that includes the establishment of a Department of Health and Human Services grant program to allow healthcare employers and facilities to confidentially assess and treat the mental health of frontline workers in addition to ordering a comprehensive study on healthcare workers’ mental health. This letter was signed by over 90 members of Congress and is supported by over 50 organizations. Read more here. ASE’s lobbyists are monitoring this bill, and we will report further developments as they arise.

 

LIVE WEBINAR: Characteristics And Consequences Of WRMSD Among Cardiac Sonographers

ASE, along with its WRMSD Grand Challenge Alliance partners, is pleased to present a LIVE webinar on the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography article “Characteristics and Consequences of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Pain among Cardiac Sonographers Compared with Peer Employees: A Multisite Cross-Sectional Study.” Please plan to join us on May 27, 5:30 – 6:30 PM EDT. Sergio Barros-Gomes, MD, first author of the article, will provide a comprehensive review of this article and discuss the prevalence, magnitude, and impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Dr. Barros-Gomes will describe this problem from an epidemiologic standpoint, and discuss risk factors and what we can do to help promote our specialty and prevent injuries.

Registration is FREE for everyone. You can claim 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ within 24 hours of watching the webinar. The webinar will also be posted for on demand viewing and claiming CME.

Specific questions regarding webinar registration can be sent to Jenn Goss at JGoss@ASEcho.org.

This webinar is sponsored by the WRMSD Grand Challenge Alliance, a pioneering alliance of leading ultrasound organizations that has come together in an effort to stop work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) resulting from the performance of diagnostic medical ultrasound.

Apply for the ASE Leadership Academy

Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd cohort of the ASE Leadership Academy. This program provides a unique opportunity for ASE members to increase their knowledge and develop a skill set that will help them in their careers and personal life. During this 19-month program, participants will be matched with a senior adviser, acquire a personalized evaluation of their leadership aptitude, and receive high-quality, online tutorials on leadership topics valued at over $5000. The 2nd cohort is limited to 15 people. Applications and recommendation letters will be accepted until August 1, 2020. Learn more and apply at ASE Leadership Academy.

Questions? Email LeadershipAcademy@ASEcho.org.

ASE Releases New Recommendations on Multimodality Imaging in Competitive Athletes

May 11, 2020, Durham, NC – Competitive athletes are a rapidly growing population worldwide. Habitual vigorous exercise, a defining characteristic of this population, can cause various changes in cardiac structure and function known as cardiac remodeling. Clinicians treating these athletes need to be prepared as optimal use of multimodality imaging in competitive athletes requires both an understanding of exercise-induced cardiac remodeling and the strengths and weaknesses of available imaging techniques. Recommendations on the Use of Multimodality Cardiovascular Imaging in Young Adult Competitive Athletes  was created to provide clinical imaging specialists with a comprehensive guide covering the principles of how clinicians should apply and interpret noninvasive imaging with accuracy and cost-effectiveness. Read more here.

New CMS Changes Just Issued – Parity in Payment for Telephone Services

Updated CMS Guidance Provides Parity in Payment for Telephone Services

Today, CMS announced that it will provide parity in payment for telephone services. Specifically, Medicare payment for the telephone evaluation and management visits would be equivalent to Medicare payment for office/outpatient visits with established patients retroactive to March 1, 2020. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110.

ASE applauds CMS’s efforts to continue to provide more support for providers in the fight against COVID-19. This change in policy had been a priority for ASE and the Alliance of Specialty Medicine. Recently, as part of the Alliance, we sent CMS a letter highlighting the need for this change to support physician practices as they seek to deliver medically necessary care under unprecedented conditions.

The guidance updated today provides temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to maximum the flexibility in the response to COVID-19.

Telephone Evaluation, Management/Assessment and Management Services, and Behavioral Health and Education Services

  • A broad range of clinicians, including physicians, can now provide certain services by telephone to their patients.
  • Medicare payment for the telephone evaluation and management visits (CPT codes 99441-99443) is equivalent to the Medicare payment for office/outpatient visits with established* patients effective March 1, 2020.
  • When clinicians are furnishing an evaluation and management (E/M) service that would otherwise be reported as an in-person or telehealth visit, using audio-only technology, practitioners may bill using these telephone E/M codes provided that it is appropriate to furnish the service using audio-only technology and all of the required elements in the applicable telephone E/M code (99441-99443) description are met.
  • Using new waiver authority, CMS is also allowing many behavioral health and education services to be furnished via telehealth using audio-only communications.

Click here for the full list of telehealth services notes which services are eligible to be furnished via audio-only technology, including the telephone evaluation and management visits.

 *ASE is seeking clarification from CMS if this change includes new patients

Congratulations to Our Newest FASE!

This week, ASE welcomes 19 new distinguished Fellows of the American Society of Echocardiography (FASE) designation recipients! These members have exemplified excellence through education, research, leadership, and volunteerism. They are ambassadors for ASE, and recognized experts in their field. A full list of FASE members can be found on SeeMyHeart.org. If you are interested in applying for FASE, or would like more information, please visit ASEcho.org/FASE. Join us in congratulating the newest FASE recipients:

Yukio Abe, MD, PhD, FASE
Said Al-Maashani, MD, FACC, FASE
George T Charlton, MD, FACC, FASE
Theodore J. Cios, MD, MPH, FASE
Robert Russell Ehrman MD, MS, FASE
Sumeet Gandhi, MD, FRCPC, FACC, FASE
Prabhakaran P Gopalakrishnan, MD, FACC, FACP, SCH, FASE
Navazh Jalaludeen, BS (Hons), MSc, FASE
Eric Benedet Lineburger, MD, PhD, FASE
Charles E. Luoma, MS, RDCS, ACS, FASE
Patrice McKay, RDCS, FASE
Diego Medvedofsky, MD, FASE
Sheetal R Patel, MD, MSCI, FASE
Maxime Pichette, MD, MSc, FASE
J. Ross Renew, MD, FASE
Rajesh Shah, MD, FASE
Daniel A. Sloyer, MD, FASE
Milena Marie Wilke, MD, FASE
Geru Wu, MD, PhD, FACC, FASE

TCTMD Article on ASE COVID-19 Statement

Echo During COVID-19? New Advice Weighs Doctor Safety, Patient Needs

Practitioners performing echocardiography during the current COVID-19 pandemic should change their practice to limit their exposure, a precaution that will ultimately increase patient safety, according to a new statement from the American Society of Echocardiography. Read more here.

ASE Live Course COVID-19 Update

Review Course

The health, well-being, and safety of our live course attendees is of the utmost importance, and to that end ASE is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. On March 17, 2020, the ASE Executive Committee decided to cancel the live ASCeXAM/ReASCE Review Course in Boston, MA, on May 9-12 and offer it as a virtual online course. For more information on registering to attend this meeting virtually, click here.

ASE Scientific Sessions

On Tuesday, March 31, the ASE Executive Committee made the decision to cancel the live in-person ASE 2020 Scientific Sessions scheduled to be held in Denver, CO, on June 19-22, 2020.  As of April 29, the Executive Committee and the Scientific Sessions Program Committee are pleased to announce that the ASE 2020: Virtual Experience will take place on August 8-10, 2020 as a live broadcast of significant portions of the originally planned Scientific Sessions content. The format will be different, but the educational and scientific content will be just as exciting as if we were all together in person. This premier echocardiography conference will feature 44 hours of CME! Mark your calendar to join us for this one of a kind cardiovascular ultrasound educational experience. Click here for more information.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Registrar@ASEcho.org.

We  have created a COVID-19 Resources page for our members.

New POCUS Training Guideline in April JASE

The April JASE contains, “Recommendations for Echocardiography Laboratories Participating in Cardiac Point of Care Cardiac Ultrasound (POCUS) and Critical Care Echocardiography Training.”  Lead author James N. Kirkpatrick, MD, FASE, of the University of Washington Medical Center said, “This guideline arose out of the foresight of ASE Past President Jonathan Lindner and the ASE Executive Committee, who recognized the importance of providing guidance to echocardiography laboratories serving as partners with point of care ultrasound and critical care echocardiography clinicians.” In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiac POCUS and Critical Care Echo (CCE) may play an important role in the bedside assessment of ill patients. A podcast on this guideline is available online.

ASE Headquarters – COVID-19 Update

Beginning March 26, 2020, the county where the ASE Headquarters is located is under a government order to “Stay at Home” due to the spread of the coronavirus. These “Stay at Home” recommendations continue to be in effect and depend on the infection rates in the County/State. ASE will keep all but essential personnel telecommuting until a time when it is judged safe to return to work. We are not suspending or closing operations; our employees will remain working and providing excellent customer service to our members and the cardiovascular ultrasound community. However, ASE will slightly modify its official open hours to 9 AM – 4 PM Eastern TimeMonday-Friday. Should you need to get in touch with a staff person, call our main office at 919-861-5574 and a phone list by department will be available. A staff directory is also available here. All general questions can also be sent through ASE@ASEcho.org. Thank you and our best wishes for your continued safety.