IT buzz on tap for MGMA conference

by Healthcare IT News

With the debate over healthcare reform reaching a crescendo and information technology often at the center of the discussion, the MGMA 2009 annual conference promises to create plenty of IT buzz.

The conference and exhibition is set for Oct. 11-14 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

MGMA Board Chairwoman Christine Schon and MGMA President and CEO William F. Jessee, MD, will formally open the event on Sunday, Oct. 12.

Schon is urging the crowd to stick around for the opening keynote talk by Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, a White House adviser on healthcare. Emanuel’s talk immediately follows the opening remarks.

Emanuel, a bioethicist and oncologist at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School, has recently drawn criticism over so-called death panels – criticisms that his supporters have called bogus.

Emanuel’s talk, titled “Improving Health Care,” sets out strategies such as strengthening physician-patient relationships, focusing on primary care and controlling costs through measures such as chronic
disease management. The talk promises to draw a packed house, said Elizabeth Johnson, a spokeswoman for MGMA.

 So, too, will Monday morning’s keynote, titled “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Healthcare,” by T.R. Reid, National Public Radio correspondent and health policy fellow of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

All the proposals for healthcare reform to date are too timid, said Reid. “They are tinkering at the margins, when we ought to be revamping the system head to toe,” he said.

Rosemarie Nelson, a principal  of the MGMA Consulting Group, will marry financial interests with information technology in a presentation called “HITECH Action Plan: EHR Incentive Payments and Practical Implementation Issues.”

Nelson said she would provide practical guidance regarding the selection, contracting process and implementation of EHRs.

“The most important caution for medical groups is to get into the EHR for the benefits it will deliver to practice operations, not just for the stimulus dollars,” Nelson said.

Among the other IT-focused sessions at the annual conference are:
•Health Information Transformation: Toolkit for Achieving Electronic Record Goals for Quality Care, Compliance, and Data Integrity;”
• “Improving Physician Decision-Making by Interfacing Ambulatory EMRs With Hospital Systems;”
• “Web 2.0: The Social Web and Why it Matters to You;”
• “Benefitting Financially from an Electronic Health Information Exchange;” and
• “EMRs from Your Hospital/PHO: A Practice Survival Guide.”

Besides the technology-focused sessions, the MGMA is also putting IT to work for attendees.

It’s easier than ever to make the most of the conference, said Jessee, who recommends the conference Web site’s tools such as the online agenda builder and the online exhibit hall planner that “gives you a sneak peak before you ever set foot on the exhibit floor.”

The MGMA has also organized sessions to focus on government affairs, including some aimed at offering updates on reform, reimbursement, information technology, the ICD-10 coding system and the newest HIPAA transaction standards.

The conference’s Web site lists 360 exhibitors, and the show floor includes an innovation pavilion, which organizers bill as providing new insights in 20 minutes.