Nu­ances of health­care re­form dom­i­nate con­fer­ence

MGMA con­fer­ence speak­ers delve into new law

Modern Healthcare - - News - Andis Robeznieks

Health­care re­form—and all that may or may not come with it— dom­i­nated the talk at the Med­i­cal Group Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual con­fer­ence and ex­hi­bi­tion in New Or­leans last week.

The need to know how re­form will af­fect med­i­cal prac­tices likely drove a 30% in­crease in paid at­ten­dance as 2,800 peo­ple came to this year’s con­fer­ence com­pared with the 2,150 who at­tended the an­nual con­fer­ence last year in Den­ver. In­clud­ing ex­hibitors and guests, to­tal that this is­sue was not men­tioned in im­ple­men­ta­tion rules, so MGMA govern­ment af­fairs staff “talked to the per­son who wrote the rule,” and he can­didly told the MGMA, “We haven’t thought of that.” Gil­berg expressed con­fi­dence though, that “bright­line guid­ance” would ap­pear in fi­nal rules.

At a panel dis­cus­sion on health­care re­form, Chip Kahn, pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tals, noted that if Repub­li­cans suc­cess­fully pass leg­is­la­tion to undo re­forms, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will veto it. “Health- how the con­cept they were pro­mot­ing could trans­form health­care de­liv­ery. Chuck Moses, a prac­tice-en­hance­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tor with Trans­forMED, said med­i­cal homes of­fer the chance for physi­cians, nurses and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff to work to­gether in ways they never have be­fore to im­prove qual­ity and lower costs.

“The pa­tient-cen­tered med­i­cal home cre­ates a frame­work for change,” he said.

An­other Trans­forMED pre­sen­ter, physi­cian as­sis­tant Diane Card­well, agreed and said, “This is an op­por­tu­nity for pri­mary care to drive things.”

Op­ti­mistic words from speak­ers, how­ever, were con­trasted with con­cern from at­ten­dees who feared new ac­count­able care and bun­dled pay­ment schemes would lead to some sort of penalty against them as a re­sult of pa­tients who ex­press no in­ter­est in im­prov­ing their own health low­er­ing provider qual­ity scores.

Re­peal of the Medi­care pay­ment for­mula was an­other hot is­sue at the con­fer­ence, along with pre­par­ing for the new ICD-10 billing and di­ag­nos­tic codes, and im­ple­ment­ing and us­ing in­for­ma­tion technology.

David Blu­men­thal, the HHS na­tional co­or­di­na­tor for health IT, and Tony Tren­kle, di­rec­tor of CMS’ Of­fice of E-health Stan­dards and Ser­vices, ex­plained the nuts and bolts of the govern­ment’s mean­ing­ful-use re­quire­ments for health IT in­cen­tive pay­ments and what changes elec­tronic health­care-record adop­tion are ex­pected to bring.

Wil­liam Crounse, Mi­crosoft’s se­nior di­rec­tor for world­wide health, dis­cussed the lat­est IT in­no­va­tions in a key­note speech while not­ing how the U.S. still lagged be­hind other in­dus­trial na­tions in IT im­ple­men­ta­tion. He said he was “of­fended” by U.S. hos­pi­tals on tight bud­gets spend­ing $150 mil­lion on EHR sys­tems while hos­pi­tals in other coun­tries were cus­tomiz­ing off-the-shelf prod­ucts that can “run cir­cles around” what is used here for much less money.

The con­fer­ence closed on an in­spi­ra­tional note from Tulane Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Scott Cowen, who told how his in­sti­tu­tion has been re­built af­ter the dis­as­ter of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina five years ago. Cowen said Tulane’s School of Medicine re­ceived an ap­pli­ca­tion from roughly one out of ev­ery four stu­dents ap­ply­ing for med­i­cal school this fall, and how the makeshift clinic it opened out­side the Har­rah’s New Or­leans Ho­tel & Casino led to the cre­ation of a com­mu­nity net­work of 89 pri­mary-care clin­ics that he said was the high­est den­sity of med­i­cal homes in the nation.

“Our in­sti­tu­tion has not only re­cov­ered, we’re thriv­ing,” Cowen said. “In a bizarre way, Ka­t­rina made us a bet­ter and stronger in­sti­tu­tion.”

— With Gregg Blesch, Mau­reen McKin­ney and David Burda

The MGMA an­nual con­fer­ence en­joyed a 30% in­crease in at­ten­dance over last year.

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