While conference attendance and membership are slipping at some healthcare organizations, the Medical Group Management Association continues to grow.
This year a record 6,400 attendees are expected at the MGMA's 73rd annual conference, to be held from Oct. 17 to Oct. 20 at the San Diego Convention Center, up from 6,200 at last year's meeting in Denver. The MGMA expects to have 22,000 individual members and 8,600 group members as of January 2000, up from 21,000 individuals and 8,300 organizations in January 1999.
While the demand for its educational and professional offerings soars, the MGMA maintains a relatively low profile among healthcare organizations. That's something that its new leader, William Jessee, M.D., would like to change.
Jessee, who took the job of president and chief executive officer July 1, will explain his initiatives to members at the conference during a speech Oct. 18.
The conference, titled "Legacies and Perspectives-a Journey to the 21st Century," features more than 100 topics and nearly 200 speakers.
Speaking at general sessions will be author and management educator James Collins, author and consultant Kevin Freiberg, consultant Thomas Mayer, M.D., and Wired magazine co-founder Jane Metcalfe. Panel discussions will be moderated by Donald Lloyd, president of the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based StarLight Group, and Arthur Miller, professor at the Harvard Law School.
Jessee was formerly vice president of quality and managed-care standards at the American Medical Association and before that worked at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (May 31, p. 16). He succeeded Thomas Adams, who resigned in September 1998.
Jessee says he was surprised to learn of the depth of the MGMA's offerings when he came on board.
"I knew this was a nice little organization that was doing some cool stuff, but I didn't have any idea about the number of things that were going on," he says.
In fact, only about one-third of the MGMA's revenues come from membership dues. Most of the rest come from products and educational programs. The Englewood, Colo.-based group also operates a research arm, called the Center for Research in Ambulatory Health Care Administration.
The center, which survives on a modest budget of less than $1.5 million per year, is trying to link with universities to enhance its productivity, Jessee says. "There's a huge need for knowledge about what works and what doesn't work in ambulatory healthcare. By developing affiliations with four or five well-established university-based research programs, we can really make (the center) a much more valuable resource," he says.
The MGMA is working with other healthcare organizations to tap new markets for its products and services, Jessee says. For example, it's exploring relationships with physician organizations to increase physician traffic on its Internet job-posting service, called ICON.
"I think there are much bigger markets that we are not tapping into," Jessee says. "We've got expertise in the one area of healthcare that is still a growth area."
Other initiatives include expanding access to the MGMA's educational offerings, particularly through the Internet, and making a major push into electronic commerce, he says.
The MGMA already has one of the best World Wide Web sites in the industry, Jessee says, but to compete, he thinks it must match the offerings of for-profit service providers such as WebMD and more.
"That may be a tall order, but I think if we're going to be a viable organization in 2005, we're going to have to have all of our resources (on) the Internet," he says.
Jessee also hopes to improve the MGMA's finances. The organization is on track to break even this year after losing $1.4 million on revenues of $21 million in 1998. Jessee says he would like to see a 1% to 2% profit margin next year.
After seeing dues revenues decline under a new membership structure, the MGMA increased dues for 2000. Individuals will pay $350, up from $325, and group memberships will cost $1,075, up from $995.