On tap at MGMA? 3 big ones

October 8, 2014 in Medical Technology

Even as it competes with the many showy distractions Las Vegas has to offer, the upcoming MGMA conference will be zeroing in on the complex and challenging issues facing physicians and practice managers today.

The MGMA 2014 Annual Conference takes place Oct. 26-28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It promises to put forth solutions to some of the knottiest problems facing medical practices.

More than ever, the conference will be focused on technology.

There will be more than 30 sessions with a health IT focus – some devoted entirely to IT, and others where technology is a big piece of the theme – compliance, for example. 

“As you can imagine, there’s a lot of IT discussion woven into a lot of different topics,” said Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor for MGMA.

Information technology has always been part of the conference, but the focus that has grown steadily over the past decade.

What is driving the interest? It’s an easy question.

“The obvious one is meaningful use – where there’s really a historic level of incentives for practices to move ahead with IT,” Tennant says. “Many, of course, have taken advantage of it. At the same time, we’re now moving into the second stage of meaningful use, and so that sort of excitement, I think, has been replaced with a little bit of frustration and concern.”

Indeed, it has. The government’s release on August 29 of the final rule for Stage 2 of meaningful use turned up the heat among stakeholders, as frustration and concern turned to disbelief. 

And, what Tennant had alluded to the day before the rule was published seemed to have been on point.

“We’ve raised numerous concerns about where meaningful use is going,” he told Healthcare IT News. “If significant changes are not coming in the program, I think the program risks a lot. We could see, frankly, failure of the program. And, nobody wants that. We want t to succeed, but we don’t want practices to have these administrative and financial burdens trying to adhere to these more rigorous Stage 2 requirements.”

[See also: MGMA urges hold on MU penalties.]

MGMA members are not alone in their worries. Other professional organizations have repeatedly lobbied for relief. 

However, the final rule provided little respite in their view. Specifically It is requiring providers to provide 365-days of EHR reporting in 2015, when CHIME and other stakeholders had pleaded for three-months of any quarter for EHR reporting. 

Tennant points out that 1,800 eligible providers have attested to Stage 2 so far, compared to 400,000 who attested for Stage 1. “So there’s something wrong going on,” he said.

[See also: MGMA, AMA want MU exemption extension.]

Tennant and many others at MGMA are prepared to help with all of these issues.

“They’re looking to optimize their IT,” Tennant said. “They’re looking to ensure they’re compliant with both security and privacy. I think that’s grown in importance. I think practices are going to have to focus a little bit more on maintaining the confidentiality of that information. So, that’s going to be an important piece – and our old friend ICD-10 has not gone away.”

Tennant said he would offer some low-cost/high-impact actions that practices can take to move forward with ICD-10, with as little disruption to the practice as possible.

[See also: ICD-10 readiness lagging, says MGMA.]

Tennant is offering two sessions at the conference. The one on Monday, Oct. 27 is titled, “Survive and Thrive in the New HIT Environment.” On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Tennant will lead a session titled “Critical HIPAA and Privacy Issues Impacting Medical Groups.”

“We’re going to try to give them a sort of a roadmap that’s cost effective and that meets the requirements of the law that will not only protect against enforcement,” Tennant said. “But, I would say, really help with business continuity because as they move in more in the use of IT, they’re more vulnerable to problems. If the IT breaks down, if there’s a flood, if a laptop is stolen. There are all kinds of ramifications for the business, not just enforcement.”

“In general, I think it’s going to be an opportunity for participants to really learn from experts and learn from their colleagues in regards to how to really manage their practice effectively,” he said. “IT, of course is going to be a huge component of that.”

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Article source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/tap-mgma-three-big-ones

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