Finance and Business Strategy

HFMA’s Annual Conference virtual preview offers a glimpse of what’s coming in November

July 23, 2021 8:05 pm
  • HFMA’s Annual Conference returns to an in-person format later this year.
  • Keynote sessions will highlight communications best practices along with new ways of thinking about medical culture and population health.
  • Eight education tracks will cover the most relevant topics for healthcare finance professionals.

After going to a virtual-only model in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HFMA’s Annual Conference is returning to an in-person format in 2021 — albeit at a different time of year than usual.

The conference is moving from its traditional late-June calendar slot for this year, with healthcare finance professionals and other industry stakeholders invited to gather Nov. 8-10 in Minneapolis.

An in-depth virtual preview of the conference, including a look at the education tracks, key speakers and other attractions, is available on-demand.

“We’re excited to be hosting our first post-pandemic, open-invitation, face-to-face event in this new location for our organization,” HFMA President and CEO Joe Fifer, FHFMA, CPA, said during the virtual preview.

“Your safety is our priority, so you can rest assured that in addition to planning an outstanding educational program, we’re closely monitoring guidelines and safety protocols to bring you a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience.”

A virtual-conference option likewise will be available, Fifer noted, providing access to educational and networking events for those who prefer to attend remotely.

Downtown Minneapolis will host HFMA’s 2021 Annual Conference in November.

High-profile speakers are getting ready to present

As part of the virtual preview, the three scheduled keynote speakers discussed the themes they’ll explore during their sessions in November.

Celeste Headlee, an award-winning journalist and radio host and a best-selling author, will present “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.”

“I’m excited to talk to you about talking to each other,” she said. “I know lots of people are super-anxious about [that] at this point. It feels a little awkward to get out there and talk.”

Part of her presentation will describe why videoconferencing is not always an ideal mode of communication. “It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of Zoom altogether, but I want to explain to you what’s going on inside your brain and help you understand why Zoom can be so exhausting and why it’s not the absolute best communication tool that you can use.”

Robert Pearl, MD, a Stanford University professor and best-selling author, and former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, will discuss insights from his new book, “Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients.”

“The book pulls the curtain back on physician culture and the powerful role it plays in American healthcare,” Pearl said. That culture “can make doctors heroes, as it did during the pandemic, or lead them to inflict harm on patients and resist changes in how healthcare is reimbursed, organized, technologically enabled and led.”

David Shulkin, MD, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for 14 months during the Trump administration and under secretary of Health in the VA for the last 22 months of the Obama administration, will explain why the VA’s focus on holistic, comprehensive health offers lessons for the private sector.

“I know it may sound funny to hear that government can teach us a few things,” Shulkin said. “But I think you’re going to be really surprised about what you hear.”

Education tracks will delve into the most important industry issues

The virtual preview showcased key sessions from the eight education tracks that will be featured at the Annual Conference.

Accounting and financial reporting. HFMA is partnering with the American Institute of CPAs to provide the most up-to-date accounting, finance and auditing guidance. One scheduled session is “Hot Topics in Accounting and Auditing,” which will provide timely insights on subjects such as CARES Act Provider Relief Fund distributions.

Business strategy. This track will highlight the latest strategies pertaining to workforce management, cost reduction, revenue diversification and performance improvement. For example, leaders with the innovation and venture firm HealthEco will describe a new type of metric that health system CFOs can use to identify, select and invest in businesses adjacent to their organization’s core business.

Consumerism. Sessions will explore consumer-oriented best practices in areas such as patient financial communications, transparency and other efforts to create a high-value patient experience. One session will spotlight HFMA’s four-part Healthcare 2030 series, which includes an upcoming report on how healthcare organizations should be preparing to meet evolving consumer expectations in relation to digital health and other advances.

Cost effectiveness of health. This track will offer perspectives on an all-encompassing issue of concern in healthcare, including how organizations are working to enhance sustainability and promote cost-effective health by lowering healthcare costs while optimizing outcomes. The virtual preview included a glimpse of a presentation by Jonathan Wiik, principal with TransUnion Healthcare, on using socioeconomic data and analytics to drive clinical and financial results for vulnerable populations.

Emerging technology. Innovations in telehealth and digital health will be examined, as will the latest trends in artificial intelligence, robotic process information and machine learning. During the virtual preview, Erin Brockschmidt, coding quality supervisor with Spectrum Health, described her scheduled presentation on implementing a comprehensive coding quality plan.

Leveraging data and analytics. Sessions will help attendees understand how to obtain a return on analytic investment tools, anticipate and manage patient volumes, and gain actionable insights that can be used to boost financial performance. Experts with OSF Healthcare will present on how the organization uses analytics to improve credit balance resolution, among other applications.

Payment innovation. New payment models that support value — including forward-looking partnerships that providers have established with employers and health plans — will be depicted. Leaders with Marshfield Clinic Health System will talk about how alignment between provider operations and the organization’s health plan bolster risk contracting and total-cost-of-care management, for example.

Revenue cycle. Sessions will offer guidance on the nuts and bolts of maintaining a high-performing revenue cycle, including ways to reduce denials and cost-to-collect while enhancing revenue integrity, health plan partnerships and performance on industry benchmarks.

Additional attractions

A redesigned exhibit hall will include open-air theaters in which the breakout education sessions will be held, allowing for social distancing. The hall also will showcase products from leading healthcare vendors and offer arranged and informal networking opportunities.

The conference also will include a gala celebration of HFMA’s 75th anniversary year, Fifer noted, “looking back at the milestone and the leaders who set the course for our Association and sharing a vision for what’s next.” 

“Regardless of whether you choose to attend in-person or virtually,” Fifer added, “the 2021 Annual Conference promises to provide a long-awaited opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues, catch up on the latest industry trends and best practices and, as always, have a little fun.”


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