MGMA12 Opens in San Antonio

Medical Group Managers Will Steer Their Organizations Around the Reefs That Lie Ahead

For those about to serve, we salute you. My apologies to both the gladiators of ancient Rome and the rock group AC/DC for paraphrasing their motto. However, I can’t get that slogan out of my mind as I travel to the Medical Group Manager’s Association (MGMA 2012) Annual Conference in San Antonio.

Long ago and far away I spent 15 years working closely with medical group managers. Call them what you will: practice administrators, group managers, office leaders. We all know who they are and what they do. Their job is to keep up on all relevant regional, state, and Federal regulations and make sure the practice remains in compliance. They negotiate agreements and contracts with third party payors. They walk the delicate balance between those who need healthcare and those that issue reimbursement and require ever more documentation.  They have to keep the money coming in. They have to keep their practice out of trouble. The have to keep everybody happy. They often do not receive their due recognition for the skill in which they perform their duties, and sometimes they even make it seem easy. But it is not.

Maybe there was a time when managing a medical practice was a walk in the park, but that hasn’t been the case for at least 30 years. One thing I am certain about is that these unsung heroes of healthcare are in for a perfect storm over the next 5 years. Their job will be monumental as they must daily steer their organizations around the reefs that lie ahead. We are on the brink of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and it is impossible to see all they ways that providers will be affected. We are in the midst of a massive rollout of electronic health records that portends potential incentives and the possibility of audits. Hospitals are buying up practices at a record pace and upsetting the often delicate balance between hospitals. Only God knows what the insurance companies have in store for us. The practice managers have to be on top of everything and if anything should go amiss, guess who gets the blame?

So I salute you. I bow, thank, and kowtow to you. You are that link in the healthcare chain that must absorb the shocks of change, transition, and uncertainty. Without your knowledge and resources we would be at great risk during the tsunami that is just now hitting our shores. I hope you get the recognition and praise you deserve. I hope all stakeholders realize the critical value you bring to the table. I sure do.

Jim Tate is founder of EMR Advocate and a nationally recognized expert on the CMS EHR Incentive Program, certified technology and meaningful use.