MGMA 2017: Tools to help physician practice leaders manage a whirlwind of change

Male doctor in white lab coat
The MGMA conference opens in Anaheim, California, on Sunday, October 8. (Getty/Saklakova)

Physician practice leaders will have a chance to get caught up on all the changes that have been a hallmark of 2017 at the Medical Group Management Association's annual conference. Not surprisingly, there will be a focus on Washington, D.C., including more information about MGMA’s advocacy efforts and guidance for medical practices that hope to succeed in an era of payment reform.

Last year, practices were just bracing for the rollout of the new final rule implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). This year, the conference will focus on hot topics within MACRA such as the quality, cost and electronic health record components of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). There will also be plenty of information for practice leaders interested in alternative payment models (APMs) at the next week's event in Anaheim, California.

Other focus areas include practice transformation with new contracting and reimbursement models, practice efficiencies, financial management, enhancing patient relationships, leadership, staff engagement and the independence to integrated spectrum.

Here's a preview of a few topics:

MACRA and government affairs

For those interested in more information on MACRA and other timely Medicare policy updates, several sessions are planned. Attendees will get a chance to have their questions answered during MIPS Office Hours with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Chief Medical Officer Kate Goodrich, M.D. That takes place Monday, Oct. 9, at 1 p.m. in Ballroom DE. Other sessions include:

Kate Goodrich
Kate Goodrichi
  • "Medicare Payment Outlook for 2017 and Beyond: MIPS and More" on Tuesday, October 10, at 8:15 a.m. in Ballroom DE. Speakers from the MGMA are Jennifer McLaughlin, J.D., senior associate director for government affairs, Mollie Gelburd, J.D., and Suzanne Falk, both associate directors of government affairs.
  • "Hot Topic: Health Information Technology Outlook" on Tuesday, October 10, at 1 p.m. in Ballroom DE, features Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy, government affairs at MGMA.
  • The general session on the MGMA’s view from Washington on Wednesday, October 11, at 8:30 a.m. in Hall B. Anders Gilberg, MGMA’s senior VP of government affairs, will talk about the current political and regulatory environment in Washington.

Enhancing patient relationships

Despite worries that increasing administrative tasks are eroding doctor-patient relationships, many physicians are focusing on putting the patient at the center of their practices.

Sessions will focus on opportunities for patient engagement, access, satisfaction and wellness, as well as team-based care solutions designed to improve patient experience and outcomes.

Kristen Hagen
Kristen Hagen

For instance, Kristin Hagen, executive director of the American College of Medical Scribe Specialists, will talk about how the use of medical scribes can give doctors time back for patient care on Monday, October 9, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 207.

The independence to integrated pendulum

This year marked a tipping point, as physician practice owners are no longer in the majority. Less than half of practicing physicians own their own practice in 2017, the first time that has happened, according to one study. Physicians are now evenly distributed between owners and employees. But many independent practitioners are committed to staying that way. MGMA sessions will examine the options on the spectrum from independence to full integration and the variations in between. Sessions will discuss the forces driving change and the challenges of each model.

For example, learn about the Group Practice Subsidiary model, designed to provide integration between hospitals and physicians around new payment models and population health, on Monday, October 9, at 2:45 p.m. in Room 210. Speakers are Curt Chase, J.D., a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP in Kansas City, Missouri; Jo Stueve, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Children's Mercy Kansas City; and Shelly Tehven, practice administrator at Johnson County Pediatrics PA in Merriam, Kansas. 

Practice efficiencies

Suzy Goldstein
Suzy Goldstein

Practice improvement can produce more efficient operations to deliver improved patient care and cost savings leading to a more profitable practice. Sessions will discuss innovation and optimization of information technology, lean process improvement, space and facilities planning and strategic planning.

For instance, Suzy Goldstein, senior project manager, performance analysis and management at MGH/MGPO Population Health Management, will talk about how to transform specialty care with electronic consults on Tuesday, October 10, at 8:15 a.m. in Room 204. She'll discuss how Massachusetts General Hospital has implemented e-consults as an innovative way to deliver outpatient specialist care and provide patients more rapid access to specialist expertise without waiting for a traditional office visit.

For more information on the sessions, view the MGMA conference brochure (PDF).