RBMA membership to learn from and celebrate 50 years of success

Numerous past presidents of the Radiology Business Management Association will be on hand when RBMA members gather April 5 to 8 in San Diego. The event is the group’s 2018 PaRADigm conference. The current leadership is bringing in a presidential lineup spanning five decades to showcase how far the organization has come—and to underscore how vital its work remains—half a century after it was founded.

“When RBMA started in 1968, things were just getting going along the independent physician billing path,” says Bob Still, who presently leads the organization as its executive director and served as its president, a volunteer position, from 2012 to 2013. “Nobody really knew how to do this kind of work, because hospitals had been doing most of the billing for radiologists’ professional services.”

Still adds: So it is that, among radiology practice managers, “things have advanced from ‘How do we bill?’ to ‘How do we manage large, consolidated and sophisticated independent radiology organizations?’”

Indeed, consolidation and its continuing effects may be evident in much of the RBMA 50th  anniversary PaRADigm program, even if only between the lines. But attendees looking to learn will find plenty of opportunities to build their expertise in myriad aspects of radiology business management, starting April 4 with a pre-conference “coding academy.”    

That said, consolidation of radiology practices and the hospitals they serve may be the un-ignorable elephant in the room, Still suggests.  

“The influx of venture capital money, private equity money, these new ways to organize physician practices and radiology practices—all of that represents a really interesting development to watch and discuss,” Still says. “How will these larger radiology organizations maintain the kind of personal relationships they’ve built with their hospitals? There still is demand for localized medicine in this country, so how do we continue to meet that demand in a time of consolidation?”

While PaRADigm may not have a track dedicated to consolidation per se, its leadership & management track will offer breakout sessions addressing many related issues from a how-to, strategic perspective, Still says. 

Educational Emphasis 

Over the past year, RBMA has been working to tailor its ongoing educational programs for various particular sub-constituencies—executives, operations managers, coders, HIPAA compliance specialists—and this too will be reflected at PaRADigm 2018. 

Meanwhile, as of press time, the organization was working on creating a new senior-level position for an experienced professional educator to lead its efforts in that area. 

“This will go way beyond speakers at a conference to a full, curriculum-based educational experience,” Still says. 

Other new or expanded areas of focus to look for at PaRADigm 2018 include cybersecurity, data sharing and, in general, the ever-growing role of IT. 

“A lot of our members work for organizations with very advanced IT needs, so we are working with our IT task force to develop more advanced offerings,” Still says, adding that this will continue on as an intensified area of interest for RBMA throughout 2018 and beyond. 

The sessions will be organized into seven major tracks—business development, financial management, human resources, information management, leadership, legal/compliance and operations management. 

As for the past presidents, they’ll join forces to share their experience on Saturday, April 7. 

“We expect this will really illustrate the progression of the organization and the profession it represents—how it has grown, what is the same and what’s different,” Still says. 

This part of the program also will spotlight historic photos and notes from prior annual RBMA meetings. 

“This will be not only fun but also meaningful,” Still says. “We’ll look back at individuals who went on to become leaders in our industry. We’re really going to celebrate our past and show how far we’ve come.”

Looking ahead to the first week of April, he says there’s one highly valuable takeaway that every PaRADigm 2018 attendee can count on receiving: informally imparted know-how. 

“The real essence of any organization is putting people together so they can learn through sharing,” Still says. “Our historic photos show how much personal and professional sharing has happened just through networking and socializing at these conferences.”