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What Will You Discover at the AAOE Annual Conference?

Monday, October 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyssa DelPrete, AAOE Communications
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Once a year, AAOE members and other professionals in orthopaedic practice management gather together at the AAOE Annual Conference. Everyone has a different reason for attending. Some  attend with the goal of gaining knowledge related to issues they’re currently facing or to plan for what’s ahead.  A few specifically want to catch up with friends and make new connections with industry peers.  And others devote a few days to focusing on their reason for being in the industry and to get the motivation to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Sometimes,  what you take back might be even more than you set out to find.

Gaining Connections, Getting Involved

Brittany Powers, Practice Manager at Orthopaedic Center of the Virginias Management Company, had only recently become an AAOE member before attending the 2017 Annual Conference. She wasn’t only a new member but also newer to practice management.

Although she didn’t  know anybody, Powers attended the ambassador events for new members and first-time conference attendees. She quickly connected with fellow members she has stayed in touch with since the conference’s close.

She shares that she gained a “wealth of information from the educational sessions,” but a major takeaway were the connections she built with other practice managers.

“Practice management is just challenging on a day-to-day basis, and you realize the things you’re going through aren’t specific to you. Everyone is going through the same day-to-day struggles,” Powers says. “I think I actually texted one of my doctors while I was at the conference to say, ‘It’s good to know I’m not on an island.’”

She also learned how to get more involved in AAOE and take advantage of member benefits. The conference gave her the courage to join the discussion on Collaborate, AAOE’s online community, which in turn led to her to take on a volunteer role on the AAOE Membership Council.

Her advice for other new members is to attend the annual conference to understand your benefits as a member. “The conference fueled me to go further into the organization,” she shares. “Going to the conference and having that interaction with other members shows you what your membership truly has to offer.”

Turning Ideas Into Strategies

Andrea Vitalich, MBA, Clinic Administrator, Pacific Rim Orthopaedic Surgeons,  attended the conference already knowing what she wanted to implement in her practice. During the conference’s educational sessions, networking events, and informal conversations that happened in the halls and during breaks, she gained critical feedback and insight from practice managers who had tackled these same problems in their own practices.

“The thing that I really came back with were some ideas for a one to five year strategy for my practice,” she explains.

Her long-term plan is adding extended hours and eventually adding an urgent care clinic to her practice. She shares that adding an urgent care clinic is something she has wanted to do but has struggled to gain buy-in from physicians who are getting ready to retire and are hesitant to make that big of an investment. During the conference, she learned what she could do in the short-term to start building her practice’s presence in the community without adding a lot of infrastructure.

While the full implementation of the plan might take a few years, Vitalich started laying the foundation right away. They are currently in the process of interviewing physician assistants who would be interested in working extended hours.

“The urgent care extended hours are something that I’m working toward, and I’m hopefully going to have at least a good plan that I’m going to be executing in the next year or two,” she says.

Vitalich also plans to incorporate more automation into her practice’s processes, starting with adding a check-in kiosk in the next year or two. “Pretty much all of the practice administrators that I talked to at the conference said adding a check-in kiosk, at minimum, can help returning patients check in and that it helps take the stress level down in the waiting area and improve efficiency.”

While she gained helpful insight and best practices at the conference, some of her immediate takeaways had to do with the bigger picture and putting healthcare into perspective.

“During the Closing General Session, the keynote speaker [Governor Michael Leavitt] had a slide that said we are halfway through a 40-year healthcare transition. That was really a lightbulb for me as a newer practice administrator,” she says. “Sometimes you get stuck in the weeds and you need to take your eyes up and see the trees.”

According to Vitalich, the people she met and the conversations she had outside of the educational sessions were some of the most valuable parts of the conference. In fact, after meeting AAOE volunteers and leadership, she joined the AAOE ALPS Committee.

“The thing I like about the AAOE Annual Conference is you’re surrounded by people who are doing literally exactly what you’re doing. That really helps build some camaraderie,” she explains. “I would be really disappointed to not be able to attend this conference.”

Registration is open now for the AAOE 2018 Annual Conference April 14-17, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Learn more about what you can experience at this year’s conference (including what’s new this year). Registration prices have been reduced by $100 this year, so register today to get the best price available.


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