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Conference on Practice Improvement Addresses Payment Models, Physician Burnout, and Collaboration

December 23, 2015—Inspiring speakers, action-provoking sessions, and a hands-on exhibit of the Primary Care Office of the Future are what the more than 400 attendees raved about at the recent Conference on Practice Improvement.

General Session Speaker Summaries

Melissa Gerdes, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of outpatient services and ACO strategy at Methodist Health System in Dallas, led the opening session, “Successful Practice Transformation for the Value-Based World."

Dr Gerdes highlighted value-based payment models, accountable care organizations (ACO), and the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Dr Gerdes outlined five core competencies of an ACO: 1) Physician-Centered Governance, 2) Collection of Quality Metrics, 3) Data Analysis/Spend Identification, 4) Post-Acute Quality Provider Network, and 5) Risk Stratification and Navigation Resource Matching. The competencies are necessary for early success in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, MPH, gave a practical solution to conference attendees for physician burnout: stable primary care teams where non-clinicians share the care. These teams improve patient satisfaction while decreasing stress for physicians.

In his presentation, “Can Primary Care Teams Simultaneously Improve Patient Access and Reduce Physician Burnout?,” Dr Bodenheimer explained that patients want competence, empathy, familiarity, and continuity from their primary care physicians. Yet the shortage of primary care physicians doesn't allow for that care and leads to inadequate staffing, which corresponds with high physician burnout.

Dr Bodenheimer, co-director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care, says team-based care addresses these issues. The model works best when teams are visible, small, and stable so that patients know their team and teams know their patients.

Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MMM, CMP, told attendees they can collaborate to make health care about patients, not paperwork, and build a system that works for everyone. In her talk, “Stop Whining, Start Leading: Reclaiming the Future of American Health Care,” Dr Fischer-Wright, president and chief executive officer of the Medical Group Management Association, emphasized that physicians, who often don’t work well with others, have created the place where they live right now. Their inability to collaborate has made them absent partners in the dialogue on the future of health care. 

Next year’s Conference on Practice Improvement will be December 1-4, 2016 in Newport Beach, CA. The Call for Presentations will open early in 2016, and registration will be open in the fall of 2016. For more information about this conference, visit

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