The 2016 NERVES Annual Meeting: Helping Neurosurgery Administrators Meet the Challenges

Nancy Timmons, MSHA, CMPE

NERVES (Neurosurgery Executives’ Resource Value & Education Society) is the only national neurosurgery practice administrator society in the United States. NERVES was established as an initiative of the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies (CSNS) to help neurosurgery practice administrators network, combine resources to gather information, and learn from experts and colleagues about how to build stronger practices. Current NERVES board members from the CSNS are Drs. Nicholas Bambakidis and Andy Wakefield.

NERVES holds its Annual Meeting each spring the weekend prior to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Meeting, and continues the dialogue initiated at the meeting through an active Listserv where members ask questions, share knowledge, and exchange information. The 2016 meeting was held April 28–29, 2016, at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. The NERVES Financial and Annual Meeting committee prepared a diverse agenda that encompassed both educational sessions and networking experiences for members.

One particular highlight of the NERVES Annual Meeting is the group roundtable discussions, which are grouped by academic, hospital, and private practice groups, and vary between small (1-5 neurosurgeons), medium (6-10) neurosurgeons, and large (10-plus neurosurgeons). These open discussions are often the most beneficial sessions of the Annual Meeting and encompass a wide variety of topics such as marketing, insurance contracting, compensation models, staffing, billing, meaningful use, PQRS, and a cadre of other topics. In addition to receiving real-time advice from other administrators, attendees are able to meet one another face-to-face, which is beneficial for post-meeting connections.

NERVES members reuniting at the Annual Meeting welcome reception

This year, NERVES was pleased to welcome keynote speaker, Mary Kelly, PhD, an internationally renowned author and speaker who discussed communication and how to be a more productive leader. Educational sessions offered a variety of interesting topics. Experts discussed developing neuroscience service lines, the rationale for a service line, structure and governance, and a road map to service line implementation. Other sessions focused on negotiating skills, understanding the value of pre-negotiation planning and tactics, countering adversarial tactics and setting goals for negotiation outcomes, and working with other professional businesses encountered in the management of a neurosurgical practice. The ever-favorite topic of ACO and bundled payment models was reviewed, focusing on the varieties of reimbursement models coming down the pike, population-based reimbursement, defining and measuring the quality data, and developing practical steps for engagement with the various reimbursement models. There was also an opportunity to review the importance of strategic planning for the practice management; from overcoming the obstacle of gaining neurosurgeon involvement to learning how to conduct planning sessions for our own groups. Updates from the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database and from Washington, DC, were extremely valuable in keeping up with legislative and CMS changes.

Each year, the NERVES Annual Meeting is highly anticipated by its membership. The professional expertise and personal insight shared within the diversity of members is extraordinary, and is invaluable for new managers and experienced managers alike. In addition to building meaningful relationships, members realize they are not alone in dealing with the difficult realities of a running a neurosurgical practice, and that colleagues can support each other in various situations, which in turn, serve the betterment of neurosurgical practices as a whole.

We urge each neurosurgeon to encourage their practice administrators to join NERVES, and attend the 2017 NERVES Annual Meeting, which will be held April 20–22, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. Agenda and registration information will be available in January 2017. To join NERVES, visit www.nervesadmin.com.