Counterintuitive Insights Shared at MPEC20

If I had to pick one word to describe this year’s annual MGMA event (Medical Practice Excellence Conference #MPEC20) it would be: counterintuitive. Throughout the three-day online event many findings, ideas and observations were shared that ran against the grain.

Better Performers Spend More

It all started a few days before MPEC20 with the release of MGMA’s 2020 Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups report. The association found that better performing practices spent more on staff, IT and operations yet generated almost 18% more revenue. Better performers also had higher take-home physician compensation than the average practice.

This finding runs counter to the commonly held belief that REDUCING cost is the best way for healthcare organizations to turn a bigger profit.

For more on that report, see this prior article.

Delusion is Needed

One of the keynotes, Michael C Bush presented an interesting session on workplace culture and building high performing teams. One statement that stood out was the following:

What Bush was implying was that to build the culture you want, leaders need to act as if the desired culture was already in place. In other words, delude yourself into thinking you’ve already succeeded and success will follow. This is, of course, the entrepreneurial mindset as well.

I also loved the graphic Bush used in his slide deck…and I’m not a cat-person.

Easier to Hire During a Pandemic

Michael O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Operations at Stanford Health Care – University HealthCare Alliance, made a stunning comment during his presentation on improving patient access. They found it was EASIER to hire clinicians during the pandemic than prior to it.

In order to achieve their goal of improving on the 3rd next available new patient visit within 21 days post COVID metric, Stanford needed to recruit more primary care providers. O’Connell and his team were steeling themselves for a long and difficult search. Instead, they were contacted almost immediately by many qualified candidates.

In the middle of a pandemic you would expect that clinicians would be scarce. Stanford’s experience dispels that myth.

Less Clinical Space, More Admin Space

As part of MPEC20, I had the privilege of hosting a 30min lightening panel on the future of medical practices with Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright (President of MGMA), Aimee Greeter (SVP at Coker Group), and Ann Greiner (President of Primary Care Collaborative).

Dr. Fischer-Wright put forward the prediction that the clinical footprint of practices would shrink as more visits are done via telehealth and as waiting rooms become passé. However, as a counterbalance, she believed that there would be an INCREASE in the amount of space needed for administrative functions (billing, pre-telehealth screening, telehealth video rooms, etc).

I can certainly see this happening now that the remote-visit genie has been freed from the bottle. I can also see how practices of the future will opt not to have waiting rooms but rather allow patients to check in while still at home or asking patients to wait in their cars/in the mall nearby and come back when they receive a text. Personally I can’t see myself being comfortable in a waiting room ever again.

Games Make People More Serious About Work

Finally, the most counterintuitive thing shared at MPEC20 was how games increase productivity. Carol Wanke, Vice President of Post Acute Revenue Cycle at Sharp Healthcare in San Diego, presented how they gamified their RCM process and realized these incredible results:

  • 11% increase in overall productivity with same/improved quality
  • 125 additional tasks worked per person per month
  • Reduced staff turnover from 6% to 1.8%
  • Easier coaching for leadership

All of this by turning daily work into a game, complete with leaderboards, fun dashboards, points and rewards. Who knew that games could make staff MORE serious about their work.


All of these counterintuitive ideas gave me a lot to think about and it proved to me that you don’t always have to go with the grain when it comes to moving your organization (or the industry) ahead.

About the author

Colin Hung

Colin Hung

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

1 Comment

  • The gamification idea made me smile. Reminds me of when I was working at the call center for Discover Card. I worked a division where most people were calling to cancel a specific credit card service Discover offered. They created all these games and prizes to try and motivate success. Worked great for me. I was so motivated by all of the prizes that I worked really hard to win it all. The problem is that I did win it all which basically demoralized the rest of the team which didn’t win anything. Then, they said you could only win one or something like that which kind of pissed me off and made me not want to work as hard.

    Point being that gamification is great, but it can cut the wrong way if you don’t design it carefully.

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