There’s nothing like live clogging at eight in the morning to really get the day started. My second day at MGMA do-si-doed/kicked off with morning presentations to a packed house. One attendee grumpily tweeted about the lack of seating in light of the amount of money she spent on attendance – a valid point, though I did notice at least two dozen empty seats scattered throughout the ballroom.
The keynote kicked off in a similar fashion as yesterday’s – a quick run through of MGMA honors, including presentation of the MGMA/AMA Practice Innovation Award winners and MGMA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Alan Beason, CEO, Cardiovascular Consultants, followed by featured speaker Atul Gawande, MD.
Gawande strikes me as healthcare’s consummate Renaissance man; his talents seem far and wide, reaching beyond medical practice to writing and even movie-making. Gawande’s presentation, “From Cowboys to Pit Crews,” stressed the need for physicians to stop practicing like the Lone Ranger and start thinking more collaboratively. He told several compelling patient stories, each highlighting gaps in care that resulted from lack of communication and resulted in avoidable pain and suffering. He stressed that it wasn’t the patient’s pain that bothered him most about these stories – it was the fact that the care teams didn’t learn from their mistakes. Each adverse event stayed in its silo, never to be shared with colleagues down the street so that they could learn from literally septic errors.
Gawande drove his point home by recounting a World Health Organization-sponsored palliative care project that has seen more positive outcomes through the use of advanced care planning modules. By simply asking patients about their end-of-life goals and including that information in the patient’s EHR, each member of the patient’s care team became aware of what treatments were necessary and unnecessary. Quality of life, and even life expectancy, improved for project patients, prompting Gawande and his fellow clinicians to imagine the outcome possibilities if all patients – no matter their condition - were treated in this manner. Collaboration was quickly shaping up to be the buzzword of the day.
After the keynote, I headed to the exhibit hall to peruse the booths more thoroughly than the night before. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic of Denise Ray and “Lance” from Technology Express. Talk about a clever way to exhibit without paying for a booth. They hung outside of the exhibit hall for most of the afternoon, engaging passers by in conversation about how their virtualization technology can be used in clinical practice training.
The CareSync booth was buzzing, no doubt due in part to the company’s recent Series B round of $18 million. Marketing Coordinator Shannon McNamara was kind enough to run through a quick demo of the company’s PHR with me. The intuitive interface included patient-entered goals and health and wellness notes, just as Gawande had advocated for earlier. Score one more for collaboration.
I spent a few minutes chatting with Greenlight sales rep Pablo Mendoza, who explained that the three year-old company has developed the industry’s only digital psychological evaluation assessment tool, one that has already gained the endorsement of the Texas Medical Association. Mendoza and his show-floor colleague were positively giddy that no other MGMA exhibitors were demonstrating anything remotely related to mental health, which makes me wonder why this facet of healthcare is so underrepresented here in Nashville.
After my morning tour of the show floor, I headed to the session on “Your Declaration of Independence – Creating an Infrastructure for Population Health,” where I spent a few minutes beforehand chatting with Bill Johnson, executive director of Fort Worth, TX-based JPS Physician Group. Johnson had a keen interest in the topic due to his group’s growing emphasis value-based business models, and their coinciding desire to get the most out of their Epic system, which he told me is not being used to its fullest capability. Johnson and his executive team will also have their hands full preparing the group’s physicians to become employees of JPS Hospital. Needless to say, he seemed to have a lot on his plate.
InHealth SVP of Clinical Services Gerard Filicko tweeted out this picture of the session’s attendees, who had a ton of questions around strategy and action items for Filicko and co-presenter Stephen Cavalieri, MD CMO of the Central Virginia Health Network. Most concurrent sessions seemed to be just as packed, if not more so. There was a line out the door and down the hallway for the session immediately afterwards, “30 Cost-Saving Ideas for Your Medical Practice,” which no doubt could have been a conference in and of itself.
Lunchtime saw attendees being herded into what felt like a massive underground bunker for a catered buffet courtesy of Ingenious Med. The food was actually quite good; the conversation was even better. I had the good fortune to sit with Everton Prospere, MD and his colleagues from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. While his peers chatted about the need to look around for electronic billing solutions, Prospere obliged me by sharing his view of ICD-10. “That is painful,” he opined. “Who does it ultimately benefit? Will it improve patient care, or give payers an excuse to deny claims?”
Prospere’s ICD-10 frustrations were not reflected in the ICD-10 Town Hall payer session I crashed after lunch. Representatives from Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and Emdeon calmly recited statistics around the non-event that ICD-10 has thus far been. Everyone seems to be cautiously optimistic, but fully prepared for the other shoe to drop when denied claims start rolling in this week or next.
The VisiQuate booth caught my attention during my second lap around the exhibit hall, thanks in large part to the fantastic shoes sported by its sales reps. The gentlemen explained that VisiQuate’s physician group analytics dashboard also seemed to be pulling people in an observation that jived with Cavalieri’s earlier comment on the need for physician benchmarking. Physicians are inherently scanners, he explained, and need report cards to prompt them to improve and/or compete with their colleagues down the street.
Athenahealth Senior Product Marketing Associate Shivani Mishra gave me a tour of the company’s ICD-10 Nerve Center, which has been keeping track of the cleanliness of customer claims coded in 10 since the October 1 transition. Athenahealth’s numbers reinforced the notion that it’s business as usual, at least for right now.
Clinispectrum’s always smiling CEO Vishal Gandhi spared a few minutes to catch me up on the company’s renewed focus on digital patient engagement and education materials. Its highly visual (and highly affordable, from what he tells me) library of content has garnered interest from the likes of Medfusion, which will likely look at integrating them into its practice portal.
The ladies at Learning Harbor, a company that provides Web-based regulatory compliance training for healthcare employees, were an absolute delight to talk to. They reeled me in with a pastry brush, and then kept me chatting about the morning’s keynote and the need for increased attention to palliative care processes. Both nurses, they seemed all too familiar with the lack of patient-centeredness in healthcare delivery.
It was great to see sponsor Versus Technology proudly display their HIStalk sign as I left the exhibit hall for the evening.
I ended the day at Stericycle’s party, which had a great turnout at the Gaylord’s Fuse sports bar. Company staff seemed to be having a great time taking pictures with customers in giant green cowboy hats and matching bandanas. Perhaps HIStalkapalooza should have a “Best Hat” category next year. Until tomorrow …