Q&A: Christie D. James on what attendees can expect to see at the RBMA 2016 Fall Educational Conference

It’s that time again! The Radiology Business Management Association’s 2016 Fall Educational Conference takes place Sept. 25-27 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Christie D. James, MS, co-chair of the RBMA Programs Committee and secretary of the RBMA Board of Directors, spoke to Radiology Business via telephone about the conference, highlighting just some of the resources and activities that will be available.

Radiology Business: The RBMA 2016 Fall Educational Conference kicks off next week in New Orleans. What is the goal of the conference?

Christie D. James: The Fall Educational Conference was designed to accommodate higher-level learning and in-depth coverage of topics affecting the business of radiology today. We’re also starting to focus on the coders in our industry and new managers, because they are people who are brand new and need to understand the business of radiology. We feel that this is where people can learn more about the business of radiology than any other venue.

More importantly, I think, attendees can meet people and network. Networking is probably one of the best things that you can do at this conference. People are introduced to others and learn what their best practices are so they can take those ideas to their own practice and begin to implement them right away. That’s the goal of RBMA and the Fall Educational Conference: progress through sharing. I have so many testimonials from colleagues and various radiologists who meet people and then build long-term relationships helping each other navigate the business of radiology.

What will attendees learn about at this year’s conference?

I believe a lot of attendees will walk away with the most current knowledge of what is going on. We do focus more on educating the attending member on issues that impact practices on a day-to-day basis, and it’s our goal for attendees to take back to their clinical and administrative staff the latest information regarding radiology reimbursement and key legislative changes and updates.

We also provide them with informed healthcare and industry developments from private and government payors, so there’s always someone that can speak about Blue Cross Blue Shield or other payors instead of just focusing on CMS.

Radiology also has these other payment models that are coming around—MIPS and MACRA are two acronyms everybody knows about—and we have several sessions on these issues from experts in the field. And we’ll have information on the appropriate use criteria component of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule legislation, and one of our faculty, from a D.C. law firm, will speak on Stark Law updates.

Something else we’ll offer is the Value Innovation Lab, where we bring in case studies from different types of practices. These are actual practice leaders who bring actual cases and explain them, and they have storyboards for attendees to view. That’s fun to do and is very well received.

And, since we know we have administrative-level attendees, we try to have speakers who will educate those attendees. It’s a balance to make sure we touch on everybody, because we have administrative leadership, clinical leadership, and radiologists who attend.

Are there any sessions or presentations you are especially excited about this year?

Our keynote speaker is Zubin Damania, MD, or ZDogg. We had him speak at a conference in the past and received tremendous feedback. He’s a great, dynamic speaker who gets everyone thinking outside of the box. He’ll be speaking Sunday afternoon.

Can you talk a bit about RBMA's decision to begin a fundraiser to help Louisiana residents impacted by the recent flooding? Why was that important to the group's members?

We have many members in Louisiana, and the board felt strongly about giving back to the area. I think we’re going to exceed our $5,000 goal, and we’re very excited about that. We’re raising it through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and we thought that was the best way to give funds directly to those who need it.

This is technically the final Fall Educational Conference, because beginning in 2017, RBMA is changing its conference schedule. Can you explain exactly what is changing?

We’re combining the Fall Educational Conference and our April conference, RBMA Summit, into one conference: RBMA PARADIGM. We’re very excited about that. RBMA PARADIGM is a new venture for us, and we feel that it is going to be one of the best things we have ever done.

Do you have any last-minute advice for those who will be attending the conference?

I would definitely pack light clothing; it’s going to be very hot outside. But the meeting rooms will be cold, so dress in layers.

Also, enjoy New Orleans! It has some of the best food in the world, there are museums in the area, and of course the music is big there.