June JASE Free for Everyone

ASE and Elsevier have collaborated to offer the June JASE content free to everyone interested in cardiovascular ultrasound around the world. Please share this news with your colleagues and students so they may dig into the double focused issue including the new ASE guideline about echo and surgical decision making, echo and COVID-19, and original research abstracts accepted for ASE’s Scientific Sessions.

New ASE Guideline Outlines the Use of TEE to Assist with Surgical Decision-Making

Intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography is a versatile diagnostic and monitoring tool used to assist in patient management in a wide-range of cardiac surgical procedures. The new document, Guidelines for the Use of Transesophageal Echocardiography to Assist with Surgical Decision-Making in the Operating Room: A Surgery-Based Approach, outlines a systematic approach on how to apply the existing guidelines to address questions on cardiac structure and function specific to the intraoperative environment in open, minimally invasive, or hybrid procedures. This peer-reviewed guideline was developed in collaboration with the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and has also been endorsed by 18 ASE International Alliance Partners. Read more here.

June JASE Features a Double Focus: COVID-19 and the Role of Echo In Surgical Decision-Making

Editor-in-Chief Michael H. Picard, MD, FASE, announces a double focus topic issue for the June Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography (JASE). In his editorial titled Life is Dynamic and So is JASE, he writes “I had planned that this June issue of JASE would focus on the role of echocardiography in surgical decision-making and also include some cutting-edge papers that would serve as a complement to the ASE’s Annual Scientific Sessions. However, the world changed quickly, and so I felt it was important for the Journal to do so also.” Read more here.

Message from the President

Dear friends,

The last week has been a difficult one for many people and for many reasons. Troubling scenes of public anger have been playing out as people express their frustrations over racial inequities. Coupled with a disheartening milestone of the country exceeding 100,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact on people of color, public sentiment is boiling over.

It is challenging for those who have never experienced discrimination of any kind to truly understand what someone feels when they face a constant threat of inequitable treatment based on circumstances beyond their control. As healthcare providers and those who help manage patients with cardiovascular disease, we are also witness to the negative impact of racial disparities on health and disease. As professionals, we often see unequal opportunities and discrimination in the workplace. While it may be hard to find words to express our emotions, we should not be silent spectators either. Witnessing acts of injustice and inequity should fuel us to act in a just and equitable manner, thereby forcefully opposing discrimination and bias. Collectively, we can and should make a difference.

ASE always stands for diversity and inclusion in all that we do. It is a core value and a driving principle that guides our actions. We reaffirm our commitment to standing together with those who feel that they are treated unjustly and pledge to eliminate those disparities. We truly aspire towards creating a caring community of echo enthusiasts. However, that can only be achieved if we commit wholeheartedly to ensure a diverse and inclusive society in which everyone feels a sense of belonging and celebrate what makes us different.

I am deeply appreciative of those who have tirelessly given their time and effort during this crisis by selflessly caring for our patients, our colleagues, and our community. The only way we can get through these difficult times is by supporting each other.

In what may feel like a dark moment in our history, let us make a commitment to make this world a better place for our families, our friends, and our communities. Let’s pledge to make at least one simple act of kindness and caring a part of our daily routines. It is truly by our actions that we will succeed together in creating a brighter future for our children.

Sincerely,

Madhav Swaminathan, MD, FASE
ASE President

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

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.