Interview with Dr. Susan Turney, CEO of MGMA-ACMPE

Susan Turney, CEO of MGMA-ACMPE

Susan Turney, MD, who became president and CEO of MGMA-ACMPE (formerly Medical Group Management Association — MGMA) in October 2011, is eminently qualified to speak about physician and practice manager roles within the U.S. healthcare environment.

She practiced internal medicine for nearly 25 years at Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic. While at Marshfield, she also served as medical director of patient financial services, an administrative role tasked with tying together the business and medical sides of the clinic.

That experience launched her next career move: In 2004 she was appointed CEO of the Wisconsin Medical Society, which subsequently founded the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network and co-founded the Wisconsin Health Information Organization.

She has served on state and national healthcare committees, including committees of the National Quality Forum and the American Medical Association, and fulfilled other appointments from Wisconsin’s governor and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ secretary.

In mid-December 2011, PhysBizTech interviewed Turney, with a focus on current issues for small physician practices. A transcript of that interview follows.

In your current role as CEO of MGMA-ACMPE, what are your top priorities in terms of helping the membership succeed in the operation of their practices?

MGMA-ACMPE is an individual membership organization. We need to make sure that we can serve our members in any type of practice setting. The traditional role of a physician in solo or small-group practice is changing dramatically in our current environment. We’re looking at ways in which we can support our members who are aligned with hospitals, who are forming larger physician groups or becoming part of an integrated delivery system so that the practice manager and physician can be supported in this new model of care delivery.

Data is — and will continue to be — important in helping practices to better serve their patients. So we’re looking at ways that we can allow practices to benchmark within their group, or to benchmark across groups. We’re developing relationships with new partners so that the data that is available to our members through MGMA-ACMPE will be more complete and more robust, and will lead to improvements in the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare.

What will be some of the top issues facing small physician practices in 2012?

First, there’s the 5010 conversion for submitting claims and getting paid for the services that the practice provide. There’s a huge potential for practices to not be ready for that conversion, and that would certainly be disruptive from a cash-flow perspective and could impact practices quite significantly.

Also on everyone’s mind are the economic pressures that result from the decreased government reimbursement. Our members have been feeling the impact of the SGR for years, and the financial pressure has caused them to look at ways that they can tighten the belt and save money. That includes perhaps not hiring staff, not providing certain services, or not locating to areas where they could better serve the access needs of their patients.

In addition, physician practices will have to deal with increased scrutiny regarding compliance. Practices will see increased auditing in some of the Medicare policies, as well as the HIPAA privacy and security rules.

Health information technology adoption is also a huge issue for our practices. They understand the need for the technology, having a patient record, being able to exchange information across sites of service, and being able to report on the performance of their practitioners. But it’s a huge burden; there’s a large financial commitment as well as ongoing education and training needs.

And then there’s the uncertainty surrounding integration. Our practices are wondering, “What next?” If they’re in a small group, should they merge with another physician practice, should they consider becoming part of a hospital system, or is there some other way they could integrate to better serve their patients’ needs? In some cases, practices are joining forces with payers to make sure they have the resources they need to continue providing patient care.

We’re here to help them figure out what their options are. But that doesn’t make it easy as they sort through all these decisions.


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