Some plans and goals take much more than a year to complete, as is the case with moving the Missouri MGMA state conference. The spring educational conference has been held at the same resort for nearly 20 years. In post conference surveys in 2016 and 2017 the number of members suggesting a change of conference venues had increased from prior years. In meetings in early 2018 the board entertained the idea of moving the conference to one of four other localities. With the focus being education and promoting the American College of Medical Practice Executives, the board did not want the environment to detract from learning. They had already learned that members value the education and were not near as concerned about decorations and backdrops. Simultaneously the board recognized the importance of listening to members. They had already made the change from a Sunday – Tuesday format to a Wednesday – Friday format, in part based on member feedback. And yet another consideration was what locality might attract the most attendees. The result of these discussions was in the fall of 2018 when the board approved unanimously to move this event to Branson, Missouri for 2020 and 2021.
The step that solidified the decision was signing the contract in late 2018. The planning for the actual event did not begin in earnest until June 2019. During that board meeting a planning committee was recommended and subsequently established. That committee, which included the current board, convened in September 2019 to determine topics and speakers for both keynote addresses and breakout sessions, and intentionally confirming all ACMPE bodies of knowledge were well represented. During that same meeting a strategy was established to gather support from vendors and business partners. As of mid-December 2019, speakers save 1 were confirmed and electronic materials were available for the May 6-8, 2020 annual conference and meeting.
It is worth noting that 93% of the respondents to the 2019 conference survey rated it as Excellent or Very Good; and there was very positive feedback with the announced change of location. And while it is too early to measure the success of the overall move of the conference, the response from members is strong, with some registrations paid before topics were ever discussed. Thus, what appears to be the most significant lesson so far is listening to members is well worth the time. It might be inferred, too, that Missouri MGMA members are confident the state conference will be a worthy investment in one’s professional growth.
As part of the annual spring conference Missouri MGMA provides a local leaders symposium, providing education for leaders of the seven local chapters within the state. Additionally, this is an opportunity and forum for those leaders to learn from each other by sharing ideas, and comparing challenges and opportunities, all in order to strengthen the local chapters and, in turn, the state association. This is an annual catalyst to meet the goal of local chapter involvement. This goal exists for the mutual benefit of the state and local chapters: it promotes Missouri MGMA to the local chapter leaders, and it is one way that Missouri MGMA demonstrates its commitment to supporting the local chapters.
The commitment continues with periodic local chapter leader calls, led by the immediate past president. The agendas for those calls allow time for each chapter to share any successes and challenges since the last call. It appears that Missouri MGMA is meeting this goal by reviewing representation at the symposium and on the calls. All seven chapters were represented at the symposium in April, and five of the seven were represented on the most recent call.
To strengthen the commitment to and bond with local chapters, the current state board has agreed that at least one board member will attend at least one local meeting for each local chapter. With seven chapters and five board members, this is a very obtainable goal. Communication is key to this, too. One lesson that is reinforced each time there is any change in leadership in the local or state chapters is the challenge of finding a time that works for everyone involved.
While local chapter leaders receive some education at this symposium, Missouri MGMA purposefully focuses on offering multiple high-quality educational opportunities throughout the year. Though difficult to measure what a “high-quality” opportunity is, the “multiple” is easily measured. In addition to the spring educational conference, twelve webinars were presented in 2019, including topics such as:
Patient Engagement and Etiquette
- Why Telemedicine and Patient Engagement Matter for Your Practice
- How to Grow Your Practice with Facebook
- Value-Based Reimbursement and Clinicians
- Reimbursement and Coding Changes for 2020
These webinars are accessible on our website to members for two years.
Additional educational material is presented in the “Communique,” a bi-monthly newsletter sent electronically to 500+ members, non-members and friends of Missouri MGMA. As the result of good planning, the recipient of this communication can now see the headlines on the first page and click on the one(s) most relevant for the entire article. The ACMPE Forum Representative and State Legislative Liaison are regular contributors. The audience depth coupled with these contributions provide an avenue for MO-MGMA to promote ACMPE regularly and keep practice managers informed of important state and national legislative issues.
Another tool used by the state chapter is the “Friday Focus” question, similar in nature to MGMA Stat. After a fair amount of discussion, the board made a conscious decision to continue this throughout 2019 and now throughout 2020. As simple as this communication is, it keeps the Missouri MGMA name in front of members, and encourages involvement on the most basic level. Each week a question is emailed to all state members and, in some instances, forwarded by local leaders to all local members of that chapter. The question is typically a yes/no type question. The questions can be used to inspire ideas or create discussion topics if needed. The board believes the goal of keeping the name in front of members is certainly achieved with this and can track how many responses are received. One trend that has been noted is the number of responses varies widely, most likely based on the question as it relates to ownership or specialty.
Missouri MGMA has recognized the need to be forward thinking for many years. Twice in the last decade the board held retreats specifically designed for strategic planning, and the thoughts and plans from each was documented for those that followed. While the conversations and actions at any one board meeting may not actually include the words “strategic planning,” there is at least an underlying assumption that the topic at hand is important to the continued well-being of the organization. The current board is looking at ideas for revenue streams and membership growth that have not been tried in the past, or at least in the recent years, without being called “strategic planning.” Many hours of discussions have led to offering organizational memberships, but it was never labeled “strategic planning.” But after all, in the words of Peter Drucker, “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.”