MGMA Thinks It Has the Solution to Practice Leader’s Biggest Training Challenges

What most have known, the role of a medical practice administrator goes well beyond identifying best practices and finding ways to implement them, but, according to a new report by MGMA, they must identify where practice staff can benefit from additional education and training, and maybe even improving customer service efforts.

An Aug. 18, 2017, MGMA Stat poll set about to check in with these same practice leaders about exactly that -- which areas they feel staff members need the most education or training. Forty-seven percent of these folks say customer service is the top area of concern and that their teams could benefit from further training. Twenty percent said revenue cycle issues are a top focus for staff education, followed by 13 percent who are focused on government regulations, 12 percent want more leadership development sessions conducted, and the last 8 percent said their focus is on a mixed bag of other issues.

In its analyzation of the findings, the group (more specifically its editorial arm) points out that these “customer-facing organizations must be focused on delivering a high level of customer service, and medical practices face this challenge with patient satisfaction playing an increasing role in reimbursement and physician compensation.”

Perhaps the bigger point here is that customer-facing medical practice staff likely need training on how to better, or best, handle phone calls, engaging patients online, “building trust with patients through effective communication and leveraging data to improve patient access and appointment capacity to reduce time-to-appointment waits.”

On the revenue cycle side, reporting requirements have been top of mind and may be overwhelming to an overwhelmed staff. The culprit of this might be (probably is) because of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (or better known as MACRA). This and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) compliance is top of mind from respondents of the MGMA Stat poll last year, in October 2016. This, other than creating some headaches, might be a great place to focus some internal resources for training and education.

This is an issue, or an opportunity, for the small practice leader that they’re going to have to address at some point, now and in the future.

Finally, leadership development can be a sticky wicket because it involves more than just training of staff, but the member of staff being trained must include outside variables like drive, passion, willingness to learn, humility, the ability to handle conflict and patience under pressure, to name a few. Also, for those needing coaching, coaching styles easily differ from person to person.

“Understanding those differences can be a first step to finding new leadership styles best suited for change management in a medical practice setting,” the MGMA authors note. “Sharing the language of leadership with staff members is one of those ways to cascade a practice administrator’s own personal growth and leadership development down through the organization.”

Let’s break this poll down a bit further and get to the heart of its matter. While it does provide some insight into what may be bothering or hindering small practice leaders – and points out their value to a practice – MGMA doesn’t provide much depth or detail that lets those of us consuming the information know what really stands in the way of their success or even their operations.

What this poll is, however, is nothing more than a way for MGMA to implore its association members to join it at the annual conference when it will have training sessions to address a number of the issues polled about. “Multiple sessions at the MGMA 2017 Annual Conference are planned …” and while this poll is a peek into practice leader’s minds, MGMA doesn’t seem to be giving us too much to think about here.  

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Scott Rupp

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Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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