ICYMI: At 2017 MGMA conference, medical practice leaders empowered to remake healthcare

Many physicians and practice leaders are disenchanted these days. So it was not without foresight that the theme of this year’s Medical Group Management Association annual conference was empowerment.

While they may be frustrated by serious problems—erosion of the doctor-patient relationship, the time drain created by electronic health records and a complicated new Medicare payment system, to name just a few—the message for practice leaders gathered in Anaheim, California, last week was to stay energized and work to build what speaker Zubin Damania, M.D., calls healthcare 3.0.

In the face of so much uncertainty in healthcare today, speakers at the 2017 MGMA conference shared advice on how to navigate federal regulations and programs, make the switch to value-based payment systems, put the focus on patient-centered care and rekindle the passion that brought many into healthcare in the first place.

Read on for a roundup of FierceHealthcare's coverage of the event.

For practices that haven’t started thinking about MIPS, it’s not too late to avoid a reimbursement penalty, said Suzanne Falk, MGMA’s associate director of government affairs. Just remember the number three.

Even if a practice has missed the deadline to collect data for a consecutive 90 days and earn a small positive payment adjustment, there’s still time to avoid a payment penalty under the new Medicare payment system. And one path to avoiding a penalty is surprisingly simple. 

His rap songs made them laugh, but his message brought his audience to their feet. Zubin Damania, M.D., also known as the rapper ZDoggMD, got a standing ovation with his call to physicians and other healthcare professionals to remember that medicine is a calling and that they must create what he calls healthcare 3.0.

CMS’ Kate Goodrich says expect final MACRA rule soon; reacts to MedPAC plan to toss MIPS

Physician practices will get a look at the final rule outlining the second year of the Medicare payment system within the next few weeks.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must publish the final rule on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which will include the quality measures for 2018, by Nov. 1, Kate Goodrich, M.D., the agency’s chief medical officer, said.

The death of MIPS, it turns out, may be highly exaggerated. 

Halee Fischer-Wright MGMA
Halee Fischer-Wright

If timing is everything, Halee Fischer-Wright, M.D., couldn’t have picked a better time to come out with a book about the need to fix the country’s healthcare system.

“This is the preeminent issue of our time,” Fischer-Wright, MGMA's president and CEO, said during an interview with FierceHealthcare.

“Physicians are very disenchanted" and frustrated with the lack of solutions for the problems that plague healthcare, from physician burnout to irritation with electronic health records, she said.

4 factors of high-performing medical practices

Profitable, high-performing medical practices have some factors in common, according to MGMA research.

Each year, the MGMA recognizes a number of high-performing practices. This year they had to score highly on four key criteria: operations, profitability, productivity and value, Michelle Mattingly, data solutions manager at the MGMA, said at a press conference at the group's annual conference in Anaheim, California.

This year, only 32 of more than 2,900 groups achieved a better performer designation in three or four of the categories.

Members of the MGMA don’t have a lot of confidence in the ability of Washington politicians to sort out the country’s healthcare problems.

MGMA asked members in a STAT poll, “What is your level of confidence in Congress to fix U.S. healthcare?”

Of the 1,500 members who responded, 89% said their confidence was low that politicians could sort out the problems, according to Anders Gilberg, the MGMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, as he spoke on the closing day of the group’s annual conference in Anaheim, California. Another 10% expressed moderate confidence and only 1% had high confidence.

It’s always risky business trying to predict the future. Especially so when trying to predict what Washington is going to do and what lies ahead for healthcare.

But Anders Gilberg, MGMA's senior vice president for government affairs, decided to go out on a limb. Some of the questions about what lies ahead for physician practices will get answered soon, as CMS will come out with a final rule updating MACRA and a new physician fee schedule by Nov. 1.

High-performing companies have a certain culture—and it's one that physician practices can duplicate.

High-performing companies have one trait in common—they create an all-in culture where they appreciate the efforts of the people who work there. That can boost both financial success and the ability to retain employees, said presenters Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, who over the last two decades have surveyed more than 850,000 working adults and worked with many companies.

New hospital-practice subsidiary model blends physician employment, independence

If you thought doctors had two options—become a hospital employee or stay totally independent—you’d be wrong.

There’s a third option, called the group practice subsidiary model, that’s somewhere between employment and independence, Curt Chase, J.D., a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP in Kansas City, Missouri, said.

Benchmarking can help physician leaders take a look at how their practice compares to practices run by their peers and competitors. But it can be hard to know where to start, said David Gans, MGMA senior fellow for industry affairs, one of the presenters at a well-attended session on benchmarking at the association. 

Where do you get the data on your own practice? Where can you find benchmarking standards to measure against? Then what do you do with all that data to make a difference? Gans and Greg Feltenberger, Ph.D., CEO at Idaho Urologic Institute in Meridian, Idaho, tackled those questions and more.