HFMA Annual Conference Recap

I had the pleasure of attending the HFMA Annual Conference, held in Minneapolis, MN on November 8-10, 2021. This year was extra special since it marks HFMA’s 75th Anniversary.

On the first day, expert Celeste Headlee shared insights on the 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. COVID-19 had significant impacts on the workforce regarding anxiety created by hours spent on video calls and remote working. She shared insights on how we relate with one another and can work together in beneficial ways. Nuances of communication are often lost through digital communication, inclusive of video conferencing and emails. I found several of her recommendations extremely helpful and insightful and have tried to implement them since I got back to my desk. While we all know that multi-tasking is ineffective and inefficient, we still all do it, and it’s easier to “get away” with it while you’re working remotely. She recommended shutting down the email during meetings and checking in periodically throughout the day. She also recommended taking intermittent breaks, for 10 minutes between meetings. It’s been proven to help with productivity and burnout. Additionally, consider the right mode of communication. Agendas and meetings notes can be emailed, however, if you have a nuanced message to communicate or you’re asking someone to do something for you, it may be better to pick up the phone. Ultimately, it was a great Day 1 filled with plenty of networking and learning opportunities.

On the second day, I found that the events all took place in the vendor hall. All of the presentations were actually all in the same room, and everyone had to wear headphones and “tune in” to the presentations via either a cell phone or audio device. This was the first time that I had seen this strategy implemented, but it was very effective. It allowed the attendees to mingle with the vendors, but also created a very collaborative environment. Each corner had a different focus area or track: Accounting and Finance, Consumerism, Business Strategy, Cost Effectiveness of Health, Emerging Technology, Leveraging Data and Analytics, and Revenue Cycle. I spent a lot of time in the newly created section of Cost Effectiveness of Health because that topic focused heavily on value-based care.

I wanted to highlight a few sessions from the Cost Effectiveness of Health track. First, “Successful Risk-Based Contracting,” focused on the key considerations for successful execution of the contract. One of the key aspects that was highlighted was the need for timely, actionable data that is specific to the end user. Second, “Healthcare Acceleration, Transformation & How to Get There”, focused on how to create a plan to improve value at your organization. Their session highlighted the key components needed to transfer from value to cost effectiveness in healthcare. The speakers started out with a real-life story about a frequent flier patient that presented weekly in the emergency room with back pain. However, when speaking further to that patient after they had presented in the ER 50+ times, they discovered that she was visiting the ER for a hot meal. Organizations are properly setup to address preventive care, care management, and transitional care through value-based contracting. There will be an ongoing need to align incentives across systems, providers, and payers alike. The alignment of payment incentives will be key for practice transformation and success across all contracts. Data analytics, with risk stratification, is necessary to identify areas of opportunity, especially for resource allocation. Furthermore, shifting towards cost effectiveness cannot be completed without a focus on quality measures because we know that the patients’ care come first.

Overall, while I was told the conference was a lot smaller compared to prior years, everyone that attended in person was very excited to have face-to-face interactions again. I was particularly happy to see that cost effectiveness has been added to the discussion, and the keynote speaker offered a refreshing perspective that I wasn’t specifically expecting from a financial healthcare conference. I hope to attend future HFMA events because I was just so intrigued by the content, had great networking opportunities, and found that the large room format was innovative and exciting.

Maria Nikol

About the Author

Senior Business Consultant

Maria Nikol is a Senior Business Consultant with over 12 years of experience in healthcare operations and strategy. She is passionate about the application of emerging policies within the value-based care space. Within her multifaceted position at Salient, she has taken a lead in developing business partnerships. She holds a Master of Jurisprudence in Health Law from Widener University and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Her hope is to empower providers with the proper tools and knowledge to efficiently take better care of patients in this ever-evolving industry.

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