The Education Committee
Conference planning is an interesting and challenging process to complete. For example, planning for the 20th Anniversary Spring Educational Conference in Orlando (April 2013) began during the summer of 2011. Identifying and securing the host hotel must begin that early to ensure that we get the dates needed to avoid other related association meetings, religious holidays, and the like. We hope all this extended planning will make this event work best for our members and offer the best room rates and space needed for the variety of educational sessions and the sixty-plus exhibitors. (Note: the site selection process is now done by ISAM and, to keep airfare and hotel costs reasonable, the focus concentrates on "hub" cities and locations.) Starting the planning early also provides time for members to block out dates on their schedules and ensure that their funding is available.
Once the site selection process is underway, we reach out to other HBMA committees to see if they have topics that they would like to have presented to our members – keeping in mind these topics will be presented almost a year from their original recommendation date. Reading the "crystal ball" is quite challenging. In the meantime, we are working on finalizing details of the upcoming national conference and managing the marketing and faculty needs for all the specialty conferences (e.g., O&M and Compliance in the spring, the CHBME Executive Summit, and Regional Meetings in the summer and fall). Annually, we have been offering over 12 additional, easy access Education-on-Demand programs.
Enough about the scheduling of all these events; let's focus on one of the most important aspects of our committee's work – namely, how this group decides on a final topic and speakers for the national conferences. Glad you asked! First, we review the evaluations that have come in from the most recent national conferences to determine our members' needs and desires for education. We then employ all tools available to us, including reviews of speaker evaluations of those who have presented in the past for HBMA to see if they would be well-received again. We also review submissions on HBMA's "Call for Speakers" web page. Additionally, we follow up on recommendations from HBMA members who have heard great speakers and do some good old fashioned cold-calling of presenters who have covered the desired topics at other association meetings and could potentially be a fit for our audience.
Sometimes luck is with us and all the stars align. More often, it is not that simple! All the speakers we reach out to are experts in their fields, and we often find they are booked before we can get them onto our calendar. At that point, we go back to the drawing board to reconsider both the topics and alternative speakers. Some types of speakers who are employed by the government, such as CMS, are not able to make specific commitments to conferences, thus creating last minute changes. Often, major changes will occur in our industry that will completely alter plans and re-route us in a whole new direction. Yes, we push out save-the-date information and teasers, but to get the entire conference marketing out well in advance of events, all of our presenters must be confirmed no later than eight months prior to the conference.
Concurrent with all of the above planning and work, the national office will be building on-line registration, dealing with hotel opportunities, and planning special events. Like all of you working on your day-to-day tasks, the HBMA Education Committee will continue working to create the highest quality education possible for our current and future members. We welcome feedback concerning topics and speakers. Don't hesitate to email Paul Myers at email@example.com if there are issues or speakers you feel would benefit HBMA members.
Joe Schendel, CHMBE chairs the HBMA Education Committee and has served in that capacity for several years. He received his BS in accounting from Montana State University and is co-owner of Provider Support Services, LLC. He also serves as chief information officer for a large, regional accounting firm in Montana.