My Dream Conference: Would Someone Please Hold the Conference of My Dreams?

The last conference I went to might be the last conference I ever go to.  I do like some parts of conferences, but not all, or even most. Medical manager conferences do not seem to have changed since I first started going to them in the late 80’s.  Big sessions with big names. Little sessions with little names. The Exhibit Hall. Parties. Get-togethers. Late nights and early mornings.

I usually expect to accomplish two things during the conference.

One is to pick up some little pearl of wisdom from a random conversation that goes like this:

THEM: Blah blah blah blah.
ME: Hey, what did you just say?
THEM: Blah blah blah blah.
ME: You do that? At your practice? And it works?
THEM: Blah.
ME: How do you do that?
THEM: Blah blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda.
ME: I’ve gotta try it – thanks so much! Hey can I get your card and call you if I get stuck?
THEM: Blah yadda yadda.
ME: Yeah, great to meet you too!

The second is the brain time I get during a totally boring session when I can think without interruption about a problem I’m trying to solve.  I can reflect, scribble notes and no one cares. The phone is not ringing, there’s not a line at my door, there’s not a to-do list to do in my to-do book.  One thing I can never get enough of is time to think.  Work is full, almost every minute, with noise and interruptions and lots of people needing something.  What I need, what we all need, is more time to think.  If you never have time to think, or plan, or process, there is no managing going on.

Here is what my dream conference would look like:

  1. Speakers on big screens – What is the value of having a big name speaker come personally to a conference?  Have them speak virtually.  Save a lot of money for us and save a lot of time for them.  Come to think of it, what do the big names actually contribute to the conference?  I’m not sure.
  2. Infomercials – Why not have the exhibitors do infomercials at breaks in the programs? Anyone can make a video explaining their product. The videos could be available on the conference YouTube Channel for anyone who misses the infomercials and wants to flip through them.
  3. No exhibit hall – I’ve heard so many vendors say they won’t have the budget soon to attend conferences.  How do vendors raise the money to attend conferences, give out goodies and door prizes and sponsor parties? By raising their product price, of course.  When I hear people say “We couldn’t have a conference without the exhibit hall,” I think “I bet we could have a better conference without the exhibit hall.”  No exhibit hall means a lot more time to meet with people I really want to see. No exhibit hall means I don’t have to carry home a bunch of literature I don’t want. No exhibit hall means I don’t have to feel guilty about finding the fastest way from the front of the hall to the coffee stand/food/bar.
  4. Breakouts on demand – I’d like to go to smaller breakout sessions when I want to fit them into my schedule.  If I get into a great discussion with someone, I don’t want to drop it to run to a session, I want to go with the flow.  Breakouts could be constantly running on screens in dedicated rooms, or I could get them on my laptop whenever I was ready for them.
  5. The Unconference – there are several versions of the Unconference, but the version I’ve been exposed to is one where a huge block of time at a conference was completely unprogrammed.  It was the second day of a two-day conference and all throughout the first day, attendees wrote things they wanted to talk about on Post-it notes and stuck them on a big blank wall.  The conference organizers were responsible for combining like ideas, assigning a time and a room and finding a facilitator for the topic.  I came to a conference with a need and my need was met!  Conferences, especially large ones, by necessity must choose topics and book speakers far in advance.  With as fluid as healthcare now is, conferences need to match the fluidity of healthcare to be pertinent.
  6. Networking, networking, networking – What can’t I get ANY other place? A conversation with my peers.  People with different experiences, different perspectives and different ideas.  That’s the best thing I can bring home from a conference.

What does your dream conference look like?




Open Your Mind: 29 Uses of Twitter for Medical Practices

© Tiero | Dreamstime.comI know many people are having trouble understanding how Twitter could be relevant to a medical practice. Here’s a list that might help.

1. Tweet patients when doctor is running late.

2.  Tweet doctor when patient is running late.

3. Tweet staff to remind them of staff meeting Monday morning.

4. Tweet patients to remind them of appointment.

5. Tweet when physician is giving a talk somewhere.

6. Tweet patients that medical report is available.

7. Tweet patients to call to make next appointment for vaccine or treatment series.

8. Tweet patient to complete patient questionnaire so payer will process claim.

9. Tweet patients to remind about NPO, golitely, drink water before test.

10. Tweet staff to remind of lunch event at work (forget the brown bag or remember your potluck offering.)

11. Tweet patient that medical records are ready to be picked up or have been sent.

12. Tweet patients that auto payment will be drafted tomorrow.

13. Tweet patients to take meds (especially meds that change: z-pack, coumadin.)

14. Tweet staff to turn payroll in, managers to look over payroll.

15. Tweet lab tech to go to exam room # for lab work.

16. Tweet x-ray tech to go to exam room # to escort patient to x-ray.

17.  Send notice to patients when new info is on website.

18. Tweet patient that earlier appointment is available when patient no-shows.

19. Order lunch for physicians.

20. Announce new services, physicians, locations.

21. Let patients know when flu shots are available.

22. Remind patients about drugs (interactions, refills, take meds.)

23.  Remind patients to take blood sugar, blood pressure.

24. Alert patient ride that patient is ready for pickup.

25. Alert referring physician that new test reports are available for them via the web.

26.. Tweet staff to give them inclement weather update.

27. Tweet patients to remind them of support-group meetings.

28. Tweet patient that last payment in payment plan is less or more due to EOB notice.

29. Tweet patients about drug recall.

What great ideas do you have for Twitter?