3 Ways Attending the MGMA Conference Makes Us Better



I hope it doesn’t seem strange that the VP of Technology for a Healthcare IT services company would attend the MGMA Annual Conference.  And I don’t mean as an exhibitor (although we have done that too, over the years) but as a paying and registered member of MGMA. I just attended this year’s conference held last week in San Francisco (I write from my hotel room). This is, in fact, my third year of attending the conference as an attendee.

As you can imagine, the conference itself is very unlike many of the IT (think techie) related conferences that I typically attend. In that sense alone, it is a very nice change of pace. But much more than that, every time I attend, I come away a bit more enlightened and personally re-invigorated. It grounds me in a way that any mission statement could never reveal on its own. It reminds me of Netgain’s purpose and what we continuously thrive to be.

This year’s conference was no different. Here are the top 3 ways the conference makes me better at my job of helping Netgain better serve the healthcare industry:

  1. Perspective
    Or should I say attunement? Attunement happens to be the word best-selling author Daniel Pink used in his keynote presentation to describe the ability of getting out of our own head and into others so that we can see things from another’s point of view.There are a lot of sessions at MGMA that go way over my head in terms of understanding and practical application. But even from those, I learn about the nuance, chaos, and demands (many times conflicting) placed on the practices we serve and the practice administrators that lead them.We see the complexity surface even if we start with a simple “Voice of the Customer” management approach, a practice Netgain uses internally and a concept included in MGMA’s Lean 6 Sigma educational course. Who is the true voice of the customer? The patient?  The legal caregiver of the patient? The payers? The staff? The providers?Healthcare organizations are providing care to the people in communities against a backdrop of changing payer reimbursement models, MACRA, reporting requirements, provider burn-out, changing technology, payment collection challenges, and business consolidation considerations.  And doing this all while under the spotlight of politics and the media. Practice administrators are in the middle of very complex operation, and seeing just a glimpse of that is useful for our understanding of how Netgain can do better.
  2. Finding a Better Way
    A few months ago, our CEO led our Senior Leadership Team in an exercise to determine our “Why.” We came to the conclusion that Netgain was founded with the belief that there always exists “a better way.”  An organization’s “Why” rarely changes; it is part of the cultural DNA of the organization. When Netgain started 17 years ago, we knew there was a “better computing model” for businesses. Our focus has been on healthcare IT for the past 10 years, and we still seek better ways to provide IT services to healthcare customers.The MGMA Annual Conference gives us insights to the challenges that practice administrators face today and into the near future. Our services continue to transition based on the intersection of our clients need with our passion for technology and finding “a better way.”Specific IT topics of consideration I’m bringing back to teams at Netgain include;
    • How can we help support the unique IT needs required for Self-Rooming workflows (such as real time location services (RTLS) and visual dashboards)?
    • How can we better assist with our clients Credit-Card-on-File workflows and ensure PCI and HIPAA security practices are in place?
    • How can we better support our client’s satisfaction survey efforts?
    • What else can we be doing to support our client’s management of mobile devices and BYOD?
    • How can we help enhance our clients Business Intelligence (BI), including data mining and reporting needs?
  3. Meaningful Service
    If I listed all the organizations I am representing at the conference, I’d be covered in nametags. When we attend the MGMA, we are attending on behalf of the healthcare organizations that we serve.At Netgain, we think of ourselves as part of each client’s IT team. Depending on the specific needs of our clients, we tailor our services to varying breadths and depths of IT scope and responsibility. Whichever manner we integrate to our clients, we don’t take our responsibilities lightly or for granted.Our attendance at the MGMA is one of many ways we like to ‘ground’ ourselves and make sure what we are doing is meaningful for each organization we serve.

Spending Halloween in San Francisco also has its benefits. My wife and I lived in Berkeley (just across the Bay) from San Francisco for a summer while I was doing a research in support of my degree in Health Physics. We were newlyweds then and this is the first time we returned to San Francisco together since then. The MGMA was a great reason to convince my parents to watch our four kids while we traveled together. We had a great time at the Black and White Masquerade dance. Was that you I saw dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller?

I ALWAYS learn something at the conference that makes a meaningful impact in my role and Netgain’s role in supporting healthcare providers.  That is what it is all about.

By the way, I think your world has more acronyms than mine, for which you have my deepest sympathies.

If you attended the MGMA and thought “this is something I need from my IT team” or have any other thoughts you would like to share with me, please do. See you at next year’s conference.