Q&A with MGMA’s Halee Fischer-Wright and Todd Evenson

September 27, 2018
Nicole Stempak

How to make the most of your time at the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) annual conference, according to President and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, and COO Todd Evenson.

We’re getting excited for the Medical Group Management Associations’ annual conference. We’ve booked our reservations, made plans to get some lobstah, and chosen what sessions to attend. But as journalists, we wanted the insider’s scoop on what to expect at MGMA18 in Boston, so we reached out to President and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, and COO Todd Evenson. Here’s what they say we can look forward to next week.

 

What will some of the hot topics be at this year’s conference?

Halee Fischer-Wright (HFW): We’re always fixated on how can we make more money and spend less money. The hottest topic we have is a new report that we’ve done specifically for this conference called, “Winning Strategies from the Top Medical Group Practices.” If you’re attending our annual conference, you get a copy of this report. It has definitive insights on how everyone, regardless of the size of your practice or the ownership of your practice, can make more money, spend less money.

Todd Evenson: From our perspective, this conference is all about connecting people and possibilities. So along with the great topics that Halee was talking about, you’re going to get the opportunity to connect with some of the industry’s greatest leaders from the leading institutions. What I think is so special about our conference [is] you get to connect face to face. It’s all about the people that you get to meet.

HFW: Absolutely. The No. 1 one reason most people attend our conference is for networking, so they have the opportunity to meet people at their peer level, but also they have the opportunity to meet people above so they get a vision of what their future holds in medical practice.

 

We’re first-time attendees. What should other folks like us be on the lookout for?

HFW: First of all, as Todd mentioned, our networking is really probably one of the best reasons to come to the annual conference. But more importantly, we have a new attendee event at 2 p.m. Sunday. We have a lot of leaders, as Todd mentioned, from the top healthcare institutions in the country. They’re going to be present there to have a glass of wine or beer and interact before our conference officially gets started. We [will] have parties going on throughout. We have a lot of social media, a lot of games.

TE: I think probably the most exciting part for me when I came to the conference for the first time was the willingness of the other folks to really connect. I literally could walk up to anybody, and they wanted to strike a conversation. It’s not an exclusive event, it’s an inclusive one. If you’re wandering the hall, you can ask a question to anybody, and they’re there to help. And that leads to, I think, a welcoming environment that I think is unique to our conference, and even for a conference this size.

 

Now we’re really looking forward to the conference. What can repeat attendees look forward to?

HFW: Our [“Winning Strategies”] report is new for our conference. Our goal is to give useful, exciting content that is unique to our conference. So that is something to look for, but one of the events I am looking the most is our Glow in the Park party [on the Lawn on D]. There’s going to be bands, food trucks, a lot of specialty cocktails that will be poured. It should be a lot of fun.

TE: We’ve had the blessing as an organization to be around for almost 93 years now. We have members who have been involved with us for decades. We do a great deal to recognize those repeat members, especially I think in terms of our certified members. A big portion of our conference is celebrating certified and fellowed members because, at the end of the day, they represent the highest order of experiences: [They have] demonstrated expertise in the industry. For them, they get real connection, and they get that spot on the stage where they get that well-deserved recognition. When I think about how we’re successful leaders, it’s obviously delivering on a conference people know what to expect, but I think we’re also about the unexpected now too.

HFW: I think what you’re talking about is the experience. Todd and I have been leaders here for three years. Our goal is, every single year, we vastly surpass the previous years’ experience. Last year in Anaheim, we got great reviews. We know this year in Boston will be even better.

 

Is there something you are looking forward to in Boston, either related to the conference or for personal reasons, say going on a whale watching tour?

HFW: We’re both foodies, so we plan on making a couple of trips to the North End for excellent Italian food.

TE: I haven’t gotten to spend a lot of time in Boston, so I’m curious to look at the architecture. I’m curious to spend time at the Waterfront. I find is when you’re at the conference, you’ll find people who are just out and about. You can hitch onto their wagon and end up just about anywhere with other attendees. Maybe it’ll be shopping, maybe it’ll be sports, [but] definitely food.

HFW: My team promised us there will be shellfish at almost every event for MGMA. Boston is an amazing city, it’s also amazingly walkable. I know there’s already groups that are planning on going to The Freedom Trail. I know there are groups planning on going to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

TE: Couple of fun runs.

HFW: Our team is thinking of walking around Harvard Yard one afternoon. There’s just so much to do. The weather is forecasted to be exquisite. What’s better than fall in New England, right?

 

Absolutely. Any final words of advice before we head to Bean Town?

HFW: Be prepared to be surprised. As Todd and I often say, it’s not your grandma’s MGMA. We really are focused on new experiences, new opportunities, and great education. And plan on having fun. A lot of medical conferences are very stuffy and very-I would say medium energy [level]. This is a high energy, fast, roller-coaster ride of a conference.

TE: I know so many of our administrators and leaders in their practices, both large and small, spend a lot of time in a very lonely position. They don’t get a lot of time to connect with one another. If somebody comes up and really wants to have a great experience, it’s about finding a connection with other people, having common interests. They have the opportunity and should be the change agents in our environment. We’re excited to have them.