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From MGMA 10/12/09

October 12, 2009 News No Comments

I arrived in Denver late Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, the snow from Saturday had all melted away.

I arrived at the convention center in time to hear Ezekiel Emanual, MD, PhD, the bioethics chair for the NIH and a senior advisor at the White House OMB on health policy. His talk focused on the need for the industry to move towards high-touch medicine, e.g., spending more time with patients, better care coordination, etc. Once we get the payment system figured out, the high-touch model will lead to lower costs. Not too much original stuff, but he was an engaging speaker.

I then hit the opening reception, which seemed pretty well attended (as happens most any time you provide free drinks). I was never quite sure what the theme was, but there were a couple women on tall stilts dressed as birch trees (I couldn’t get a shot without looking too conspicuous, darn it).

Monday morning I walked though about half the exhibit floors. Vendors said that Sunday was pretty slow, but busier today. Official total attendance, by the way, is about 4,500, including 2,150 paid attendees. MGMA says the numbers are down 21% from last year, which is similar to what other associations are seeing.

Thank you, Eclipsys, for being the first booth I saw displaying an HIStalk sponsorship sign! I did notice that SRSsoft also had the magnets available to hand out. I personally think they are a must-have souvenir, so stop by the booths of our sponsors to pick one up.

By far the busiest booth seems to be the MGMA bookshop. Who would have thunk?

NextGen has the same booth they had at HIMSS, which is this modern, almost spaceship-looking thing with cool lights. I’ll try to take a picture. GE has a very large space that looked a bit empty. The problem with a big space is that if it is not crowded, it really looks empty.  If you have a good location, maybe a small booth is not a bad thing. It’s a lot easier to look crowded and make others wonder what the buzz is all about.

Speaking of buzz, I haven’t heard much of any so far, although perhaps I did hear MGMA’s thoughts on what practices are doing as it relates to EHR/meaningful use/ARRA. MGMA thinks that perhaps 75% of its members do not have EHRs yet. Many are sitting on the sidelines waiting for more clarification on meaningful use.

I was surprised to learn that many practices really don’t understand how the whole stimulus funding process works. Seems to be some confusion that you have to buy an EHR out of pocket, install it, and then prove meaningful use, rather than simply apply for grant money up front.

And, even though you would expect the whole ARRA/EHR issue to be what the buzz is all about, at least at this conference, the RCM vendors are still getting their share of booth traffic.

More updates to come.

E-mail Inga.

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