News and Updates for Healthcare Professionals

New Tool Helps Primary Care Practices Screen Patients for Social Needs

AHRQ has developed a new tool to help primary care practices screen and refer patients for social needs such as food or housing, so-called social determinants of health (SDOH) which, when identified, can help tailor care to patients’ circumstances.

It is one of the Tools for Change developed as part of AHRQ’s EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health Initiative, and will be an additional resource on AHRQ’s Social Determinants of Health site.

The tool helps primary care practices:

  • Find resources and information to get started on patient screening and referral
  • Consider what approaches work best for their practice
  • Understand how to use collected information to address patients’ social needs, tailor care to their circumstances, and maximize reimbursement.

You are subscribed to Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

U.S. Surgeon General on Emotional Well-Being and Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

From September 2019 to September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 90,000 overdose deaths in the United States. These latest data on the nation’s opioid crisis offer another stark reminder that help is desperately needed in communities across the land. NIH’s research efforts to address the opioid crisis have been stressed during the pandemic, but creative investigators have come up with workarounds like wider use of telemedicine to fill the gap.


Cognitive Impairment: Medicare Provides Opportunities to Detect & Diagnose

Do you have a patient with a cognitive impairment? Medicare covers a separate visit for a cognitive assessment so you can more thoroughly evaluate cognitive function and help with care planning.

3 Things You Need to Know:

  1. If your patient shows signs of cognitive impairment at an Annual Wellness Visit or other routine visit, you may perform a more detailed cognitive assessment and develop a care plan
  2. The Cognitive Assessment & Care Plan Services (CPT code 99483) typically start with a 50-minute face-to-face visit that includes a detailed history and patient exam, resulting in a written care plan
  3. Any clinician eligible to report Evaluation and Management (E/M) services can offer this service, including: physicians (MD and DO), nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and physician assistants

Effective January 1, 2021, Medicare increased payment for these services to $282 (may be geographically adjusted) when provided in an office setting, added these services to the definition of primary care services in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and permanently covers these services via telehealth.

Get details on Medicare coverage requirements and proper billing at

Tailored, earlier cardiac rehab program shows physical, emotional benefits for heart failure patients

NIH-funded clinical trial improved frailty, depression and overall quality of life.


Long-lasting medications may improve treatment satisfaction in people with opioid use disorder

NIH leaders emphasize the importance of patient voices in addiction medication development.


National Health and Aging Trends Study Research Brief

The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) was launched in recognition of the shifting landscape of late-life and the need for data to support the scientific study of how daily life changes as we age.

You can download the brief National Health and Aging Trends Study Research Brief here.

NIH Statement on World Asthma Day 2021

On World Asthma Day, the National Institutes of Health reaffirms its commitment to research to improve the lives of people with asthma. More than 25 million people in the United States have asthma(link is external), including 5.1 million children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This chronic lung disease can reduce quality of life, contributes to considerable emotional and financial stress, and is a major contributing factor to missed time from school and work.


Screening for Hypertension in Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released today a final recommendation statement on screening for hypertension in adults. The Task Force recommends that clinicians screen all adults for hypertension.


USPSTF Still Sour on Afib Screening, Even With Apple Watch

Screening for atrial fibrillation (Afib) -- whether with ECG in office or via a wearable device -- cannot be recommended for middle age and older adults without symptoms.


Final Recommendation Statement: Screening for Vitamin D Deficiency in Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released today a final recommendation statement on screening for vitamin D deficiency in adults. The Task Force determined more research is needed to make a recommendation for or against screening. To view the recommendation, the evidence on which it is based, and a summary for clinicians, please go here. The final recommendation statement can also be found in the April 13, 2021 online issue of JAMA.