The Medical Group Management Association voted to guarantee physician representation on its governing board, reversing the defeat of a similar ballot proposal last year.
The measure will add two voting seats and two nonvoting seats for physician administrators by 1997. The board now has 14 members, two of whom happen to be physicians.
Members voted 79% for physician involvement during a business meeting at the MGMA's 69th annual conference in New Orleans last week.
Attendance at the conference was a record 4,000 members, but only 1,500 voted.
Last year's vote of 61% for physician representation fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the bylaws. That measure would have added four voting seats for physicians.
Frederick "Fritz" Wenzel, the MGMA's executive vice president and chief executive officer, attributed the increased support to a "low-key information program" by leadership and a more upbeat feeling among members.
"Last year I think there was a much more conservative attitude because there was more fear," he said.
The Englewood, Colo.-based MGMA is the largest organization for medical group administrators and managers, representing 17,000 individuals at 6,800 group practices.
The measure supports the MGMA's recent initiative to promote physician-administrator teams.
That priority was reflected in a strategic plan unveiled last week, and in the MGMA's effort to collaborate with the American Medical Association in legislative action, consulting services, surveys and other areas.
Wenzel said some state affiliates of the MGMA are considering cooperating with the medical societies in their states, as well.
As the line between the business and clinical sides of healthcare blurs, physician-administrator team leadership will be essential, he said.
Physician administrators will serve one year as nonvoting members on the MGMA board and a second year as voting members. In January, a standing committee will nominate the first two physician representatives, who will earn votes in 1997.