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2018 MGMA conference inspires practice leaders to transform the healthcare industry

By Lisa A. Eramo, MA

Leadership, operational best practices, healthcare consumerism, population health management, and value-based care were among the many topics discussed at the 2018 Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) annual conference in Boston Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The event included an amalgam of thought-provoking sessions, each of which reiterated the conference theme ‘people and possibility,’ prompting medical practice administrators and executive attendees to ponder how they can leverage technology and operational best practices to improve patient care.

Employee satisfaction and healthcare transformation

Healthcare transformation begins at the practice level where leaders choose to make employee satisfaction their number one priority, said Simon Sinek, author of Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Why is this important? When employees feel valued, they’re inspired to provide better patient care. Sinek, who spoke during a packed general session, provided these five elements for successful leadership in today’s medical practices:

  1. Just cause (i.e., a clear vision and larger purpose to the work)
  2. Trusting teams (i.e., workers who feel as though they can express themselves and pursue their full potential)
  3. Worthy rival (i.e., one or more organizations from which practices can learn and to which they can aspire)
  4. Existential flexibility (i.e., the ability to abandon one process to pursue a more effective one, when necessary)
  5. Courage (i.e., the ability to focus on constant improvement, shifting from finite to infinite goals)

Wrap your head around data analytics

Frank Cohen, MBA, MPA, director of analytics at Doctors Management, LLC said today’s healthcare leaders must not only be skilled at managing people, they must also be well-versed in ‘all things data analytics.’

“Analytics is really beginning to dominate what we do in healthcare,” he said. “If you’re not already really proficient at analytics, start looking at getting more proficient.” Having this knowledge allows leaders to uncover inefficiencies and areas of vulnerability like never before, he added.

Embrace healthcare consumerism

The ability to embrace healthcare consumerism is also a necessary attribute of successful healthcare leaders, said Brent Bowman, vice president of strategy and expansion markets at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. This starts by creating a concerted effort to focus on patient engagement, he added. Bowman provided these three tips to get started:

  1. Focus on convenience. Consider expanding office hours or offering weekend appointments to gain patient loyalty.
  2. Monitor your online reputation. Notice what patients are saying, and use that input to improve performance.
  3. Create a digital strategy. Consider offering online bill pay, patient portals, virtual care, mobile apps, and more.

Look at your website, telemedicine, and compliance

Robin Farmanfarmaian, professional speaker, entrepreneur, and angel investor, urged attendees to prioritize the design and usability of their practice’s website. She also reiterated the importance of embracing new technology and methods of care delivery, especially telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.

As providers venture into telemedicine, they need to keep compliance in mind, said Tana Williams, provider educator at Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC, who spoke about Medicare requirements for compliant telehealth billing. She provided these five tips to reduce denials:

  1. Ensure that providers who furnish telehealth are enrolled in Medicare and operating under their scope of practice under state law.
  2. Verify whether Medicare beneficiaries are eligible based on their location at the time services are rendered.
  3. Use compliant equipment. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) ยง410.78(a)(3) defines these systems as “multimedia communications equipment that includes, at a minimum, audio and video equipment permitting two-way, real-time interactive communication between the patient and distant site physician or practitioner.” The telecommunications systems must also include administrative, technical, and physical safeguards.
  4. Know what Medicare services are eligible for telehealth. For a complete list of the calendar year 2018 Medicare telehealth services, visit
  5. Report the correct place of service (i.e., place of service code 02).

Creating a culture of population health

Many sessions also focused on operational best practices. For example, Ryan Neaves, MHA, director of IT applications at Novant Health discussed how he helped create a culture of population health at his organization. He provided these seven tips:

  1. Obtain senior leadership buy-in as soon as possible.
  2. Create a core group of champions with representation from marketing, medical group leadership, family medicine, business analytics, patient safety, clinical and quality improvement, and others.
  3. Create dashboards so providers can easily view performance.
  4. Use registries in all services lines to segment patients and target interventions.
  5. Assign risk scores to each patient to predict readmissions.
  6. Incorporate best practice advisories to remind physicians when patients are due for tests and services that are directly related to quality measures.
  7. Engage patients by sending annual health reminder letters through the portal.

And more

Other sessions ran the gamut on new and emerging topics, such as value-based physician compensation models, negotiating bundled payment programs, access optimization, addressing social determinants of health, and more.

Editor’s picks:

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