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Our attention is a precious commodity these days: low supply but high demand. Even now you are “selling” your attention to “buy” the content of this blog post. Thank you! Please come again. We appreciate your business.
Imagine the challenge, then, of selling a three-day conference to busy clinicians, managers, researchers, educators, policy makers, and students in the field of integrated care. Conferences are exhausting, expensive, and poor excuses for leaving our comfortable clinics and offices. A conference must be pretty attractive for busy healthcare workers to spend their attention, travel funds, and weekend days to sit in a padded hotel chair for several hours.
Here are the four reasons people attend conferences: to learn; to network; to find new content; and to share. Each reason has the potential to bring energy and focus into our workspaces. We feel that energy and focus and then work hard to bring it back with us before is dissipates.
What was most gratifying for me was seeing the continuation of the CFHA ethos alive and well despite the much larger size of the conference. Collaboration, collegiality and excellence were in the air and I really felt that newcomers benefitted from this. This is a testament to our long-time members who make this community an open, welcoming community of professionalsNeftali Serrano, CFHA Executive Director
The 2019 CFHA Conference in Denver this past October checked off all the boxes for why people attend conferences. In my mind, there are two main storylines from this historic conference.
First, the CFHA community is growing. There were 885 registrants with approximately 840 in attendance. That is a significant increase from past conferences. About 50% of those registrants were first timers. Think of that! That means over 400 people learned about the conference and then decided it was worth their attention and money. Marketing and location certainly help. But it also seems that integrated care is gaining recognition and momentum in more places than it was even a year ago.
Second, the CFHA conference is growing. For the first time, CFHA held a post-conference session on Sunday for anyone interested in discussing the Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) model. This singular summit (with 90 people in attendance) attempted to address some of the core questions in PCBH practice and research: how to effectively and efficiently define PCBH; how to develop strategies for working toward core PCBH elements; what aspects of PCBH are more primary care focused and more behavioral health focused. There are new research projects currently moving forward to answer these questions. Personally, I hope to see this summit come back.
From my perspective as a conference attendee, there are two themes that persisted in the sessions I attended: workforce development and variation. I wrote on these two common challenges last year. “The challenges facing integration today are many and include the following big two: workforce development and variation. The first is a constant requirement for the health care ecosystem and a major determination for how fast a system can integrate. The second is a natural result of the germination of integration across many spots of land, some good and some poor. Variation is good for gene pools and music playlists, but not for disseminating best practice in primary care. Variation means everyone is NOT on the same page. It is a major impediment for research and dissemination.” I attended presentations by people who are actively working to improve workforce development and/or reduce variation.
I would argue that two of the many purposes of the CFHA conference is to help develop the workforce and reduce variation in practice. The 2020 CFHA conference in Philadelphia will pick up that momentum and run with it. Hopefully all of the new and regular attendees from this year are willing to spend their attention and travel funds to be there in person.