RBMA 2017 PaRADigm: Q&A: Jim Hamilton on member education, MACRA and a brand new annual meeting

2017 is a year of significant change for RBMA. This year, the association has consolidated its two largest annual meetings—Radiology Summit and the Fall Educational Conference—into one larger meeting: RBMA PaRADigm.

Jim Hamilton, MHA, CMM, is the president of RBMA and the administrator and business manager for Medical Imaging Physicians, an 18-radiologist practice in Dayton, Ohio. Hamilton spoke with Radiology Business Journal about RBMA PaRADigm and also touched on how significant changes in the imaging industry have impacted

RBMA’s members.

Like all healthcare specialties, radiology is currently experiencing significant change. How has this affected business managers? How have their lives changed, for better or for worse, in the last 2 to 3 years?

There are multiple types of radiology and imaging business managers. There are hospital-based business managers, imaging center-based business managers, department managers at the hospital, consultants that specialize in radiology management, billing company managers that specialize in radiology, and more.

So we have a variety of people who have been impacted by changes in the industry, and all of these people have a great deal of concerns and issues related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Medicare regulations have been huge and states changing their own Medicaid policies have reduced income and caused a lot of pressure on imaging groups.

Overall, what is the biggest challenge facing radiology business managers today?

There is a large amount of consolidation going on in the industry. Groups need to consolidate to be more efficient and create an economy of scale, but the pressure this puts on the business manager is enormous because of the complexities of compliance requirements and other issues. And then, there’s always the manager himself or herself, who may now worry about a loss of job due to the consolidation in the industry.

What can societies such as RBMA do to help with this issue?

The most important thing RBMA can do for managers is provide education. As the industry evolves, business managers are expected to have more technical expertise, know more about social media, know more about cybersecurity and know more about quality measures and reimbursement. So without question, education is the No. 1 thing we can do in this new era.

RBMA often acts as an advocate group for its members. What developments in healthcare regulation are you keeping a close eye on in 2017?

MACRA is important right now. We must educate our members on how MACRA works so they can achieve the highest scores their groups can achieve so they can avoid penalties and possibly get a bonus.

The effort of our RBMA Federal Affairs Committee has been huge this year. Through that committee, we were able to comment to CMS about issues facing hospital-based radiologists not having adequate resources to meet some of the requirements. CMS replied recently that some hospital-based radiologists will be exempt from some of those requirements.

Why was the decision made to consolidate Radiology Summit and the Fall Educational Conference into one annual meeting? What are some benefits of that decision?

That decision had been discussed for more than two years by the RBMA Board of Directors and was then acted on last year. By going to one major conference, we can improve relationships with our vendors and improve the benefit of bringing high-level speakers to the conference and improving educational content for our members. Also, we do still offer other specialty conferences. The ACR-RBMA Practice Leaders Forum continues in January and we’ll continue to do our successful marketing conference, Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs, so managers can learn how to market their businesses better. We’re also working right now on a regulatory conference to be held in Washington, D.C.  After that two-day conference, managers would be able to see their congressman.

What aspect of RBMA 2017 PaRADigm are you the most excited about?  

We’re going to bring coding back into our offerings, invite the coders back to the meeting and continue to educate business managers on the many nuances of coding. Coding doesn’t go away with the ACA, MACRA and all of these regulations; we still have a lot of regulations in coding, so we need to continue to educate our members on that.

We’re also creating more general sessions to give the meeting a more high-level profile.

Overall, there are clear benefits of working and networking with other members in other practices. RBMA was built on the model of progress through sharing, and we’re trying to create some events to get everyone together to network. We’re looking at offering events just for spouses, so members should bring their spouses. Everyone should have a good time, talk about the business and learn from one another.