The Value of WEDI Membership:
The View from a Provider
Whether it be the movement from strictly fee-for-service to value-based care, the shift away from manual to a more automated revenue cycle, or meeting numerous federal requirements, providers face significant obstacles in effectively deploying new EDI standards and health IT. By leveraging WEDI, provider organizations are better able to meet these challenges through education opportunities, networking with fellow providers, colleagues in other healthcare sectors, and government officials, and by directly impacting public policy.
My organization, the
Medical Group Management Association
, represents more than 40,000 medical practice administrators and executives in practices of all sizes, types, structures and specialties. MGMA has been a member since WEDI was formed in the early 1990s.
With providers having financial pressure on them to maintain access to high quality care in a time of declining reimbursement, they are increasingly looking at Health IT to increase productivity and decrease their operating expenses. The work that WEDI has accomplished in the past several years has been of tremendous benefit to all healthcare organizations. Producing numerous resources, including white papers and webinars, that have allowed providers and others to understand and implement the complex regulations mandated by HIPAA, HITECH, and the Affordable Care Act, WEDI has proven to be very successful in bringing divergent groups together to produce positive impact on the healthcare system and minimize administrative disruption and cost.
We all know the value of discussing critical work issues with colleagues outside your own organization. WEDI offers a wide variety of opportunities to interact directly with both industry experts and those facing similar challenges as you are. Whether it be posing a question on an educational webinar, raising an issue on a workgroup conference call, or engaging in a spirited conversation at one of the face-to-face events, WEDI offers a forum to get your question answered and your issue addressed.
By being named in the HIPAA legislation as an advisor to the federal government, agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, and the Office for Civil Rights all work closely with WEDI during the regulatory development and post-publication implementation phases. Membership in WEDI gives you unparalleled ability to interact with the government officials shaping the policies that impact your organization.
WEDI-led collaborative efforts can also lead directly to changes in public policy. As an example, I had the honor of co-chairing, along with incoming WEDI board chair Jay Eisenstock, a task group charged with developing a set of consensus-based principles for electronic payments. This initiative was prompted by underutilization of the electronic funds transfer transaction by providers and unfair business practices by some payers and vendors. The culmination of this work was the 2016 release of a document that identified electronic payments best practices for providers, payers and vendors. In 2017, CMS released guidance that not only mirrored many of the principles outlined by the task group, but actually cited the WEDI document.
Having been involved with WEDI for more than 15 years, I have witnessed a significant transformation in the organization as it has succeeded in becoming the premier multi-stakeholder EDI organization. Moving forward, WEDI will offer educational programs that are timely and relevant, expand the scope of the organization beyond EDI into other important health IT issues, and produce actionable and practical solutions that directly lead to cost reduction and improved patient care. Over the next few years, as a revitalized WEDI increases its influence and impact, providers will want to be front and center.
Robert M. Tennant, MA
WEDI Board of Directors, Director, HIT Policy,
Medical Group Management Association