From October 13 to 16, 2019, I had the opportunity to represent NHA at the MGMA Annual Conference in New Orleans. Over 4,000 healthcare industry professionals gather together annually for this event, and I always look forward to it. The atmosphere is full of energy and everyone I talk to — whether it be at a session, in our NHA booth or just meeting people in the lunch area — is enthusiastic and excited to be there.

This year’s theme was “Igniting Excellence in Leadership,” and everything from the speakers to the participants’ energy to the vibrant colors all around was energizing and positive.

During the conference, my co-workers and I had the opportunity to talk to a variety of healthcare professionals, such as CEOs, Practice Directors/Managers, Directors of Risk Management and Directors of Operations.

As a Provider Relations Specialist, I talk to a lot of employers about NHA, and our story has become a little more tricky to tell (in a good way!). NHA has always advocated for allied health professionals. Not only are we preparing and certifying allied health workers, but we’re also providing additional learning resources (such as Principles of Health Coaching™ and TEAM Based Care) to assist with career laddering opportunities — a topic that came up a lot during the conference, both in sessions and in individual conversations.

NHA continues to hear that more healthcare practices are seeing the benefit of helping healthcare workers such as MAs work at the top of their credential ... especially in alleviating physician burnout. There were approximately seven sessions in two days covering the topic of provider burnout, a trend we need to overcome! A key insight that many speakers shared was that work-life balance can be achieved for providers and staff by letting MAs work to the top of their credential, thereby giving doctors and nurses the opportunity to serve at the top of their licenses. 

One breakout session I particularly enjoyed was “Team-based Care Approach to Meet the Triple AIM,” led by Dena Hall-Nelson of University HealthCare Alliance and Charles Mesrobian and Michael O’Connell of Stanford Health Care. By implementing team-based care in their organization, they’ve improved teamwork, communication and problem-solving. An interesting piece of their approach is that they recently developed an MA career ladder with four MA levels. I love hearing from institutions who believe in educating their staff, and the positive outcomes they’ve seen from doing so makes me excited knowing that NHA is providing relevant solutions that can help healthcare employers see positive change.

Two key takeaways from the conference that gave me even more confidence that NHA has evolved with solutions needed in the market:

  • There is still a need to overcome physician burnout, and MAs can help lighten their providers’ loads. MAs are very top of mind when it comes to strategies for reducing burnout. Because MAs are utilized in large numbers and in many settings, they can be an excellent resource for physicians. When medical assistants' scope of work allows them to practice at to the top of their certifications, physicians, too, are able to work at the top of their license.
    • NHA certifies medical assistants as well as seven other professions, and we continue to support each of their careers through continuing education opportunities to help them all work at the top of their credential. 
  • Healthcare organizations are looking for career laddering solutions to help with retention.
    • As advocates for MAs, we believe employers can and should elevate MAs through career laddering. We partner with employers, educators, and organizations to empower people to access a better future in healthcare through innovative, accessible learning resources, national certification exams and professional development. 
    • Some of NHA's latest solutions, Principles of Health Coaching and TEAM Based Care, help healthcare teams work more efficiently and effectively, empowering allied healthcare workers and ultimately resulting in improved patient care.

I gained a lot of valuable information at the MGMA Annual Conference. It was inspiring to hear from all types of healthcare leaders, and it is exciting to know that NHA can help with some of the big issues that they and their health systems are facing. The theme “Igniting Excellence in Leadership” was spot on, because I left with a fiery passion and excitement for the direction NHA is heading and our ability to partner with healthcare organizations and schools to create change.





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