WSMA DocTalks for Residents

The WSMA has put together this menu of presentations for your residents. Our staff professionals will come to your location to meet with your residents on an agreed upon date and time, at no expense to you or your program. Presentations last approximately 60 minutes each.

To schedule a presentation at your convenience, contact the staff presenter listed.

Health care delivery

Quality Metrics and Reporting – Bob Perna,
Health insurers and government programs, as well as “purchasers”—organizations that pay health insurance premiums—are all demanding value from the health care system. Toward that end, quality reporting requirements are being imposed as a means for assessing health outcomes and for rewarding achievements. This presentation addresses the predominant initiatives in play, including Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting System, the Shared Savings Program and the value-based modifier, as well as the new MACRA legislation, alternative payment models and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

Electronic Health Records: Overview – Bob Perna,
The migration from traditional paper charts to electronic health records has imposed substantial costs and “change management” onto the U.S. health care system. The variety of competing proprietary EHRs, with differing templates for performing chart entries and retrieving past records, add further complexities and variation across care delivery systems. This presentation provides an overview of how EHRs are being used in health care settings and common pitfalls that physicians can encounter. Also addressed are “meaningful use” requirements, which determine whether hospitals and physicians qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments in adopting certified EHR technology.

Primer on Health Insurers: Government Programs and Commercial Insurers – Bob Perna,
The delivery of health care services in the U.S. is closely tied to the availability of health insurance and its operational requirements. This program provides a functional understanding of the predominant health insurance and government “entitlement” programs that physicians and staff will encounter. Also, this presentation explains how the intricacies of those various and often uncoordinated products and programs can facilitate—or impede—the course of treatment.

Health care financing

Internal Finances of Health Care – Bob Perna,
The success of a physician practice hinges on having effective processes for “turning services into dollars”: establishing appropriate charges for services, conducting effective billing operations and ensuring adequate clinical productivity. Also, creating a fair compensation program for the practice’s physicians will reward productivity and retain high quality practitioners. This presentation addresses techniques for achieving those goals.

Financial Relationships with External Partners – Bob Perna,
Physicians and practices are under increasing scrutiny by their external partners, requiring more sophisticated and complex tracking and reporting of services provided and associated quality metrics. Insurers and purchasers are insisting that practices bear greater financial risk, shifting “from volume to value”. This presentation addresses risk-based contracting, population health and emerging payment models.

Value Based Payment Models – Bob Perna,
There’s increasing pressure from payers to move away from fee-for-service models to value-based payment models. Those strategies will have a profound impact on physicians, their administrative staff and their practices. MACRA/MIPS and the state’s Healthier Washington initiatives are built around value-based payment models. This presentation focuses on actions to consider as part of your practice’s implementation strategy.

Physician advocacy and politics

Legislative Advocacy: Representing Doctors and Patients in Olympia – Katie Kolan, JD,
This presentation will walk the resident through the various phases of the state legislative process. It will highlight the areas where physicians can influence the process and help drive change that improves care delivery in the state. The presentation will also touch on the role of state agencies, the importance of agency rulemaking, and tips on being an effective advocate even when the legislature has adjourned for the year.

Professionalism, social media, personal finances

Employment Contracts – Denny Maher, MD, JD,
Too often young physicians are ill-prepared to address the legal aspects of securing employment. This presentation focuses on what residents need to understand about employment contracts before signing on the bottom line. The program provides an overview of the basics of contracts, and outlines how the physician should prepare before making a commitment. Topics include the importance of understanding personal needs, wants and priorities, performing due diligence and identifying red flags. Individual contract terms will be described, highlighting various issues around termination of employment, including how a contract may be terminated , and restrictive covenants, such as non-compete and non-solicitation provisions. This presentation will assist residents as they move out of training and enter into employment relationships.

Social Media and the Internet: What Physicians Need to Know Now – Tierney Edwards, JD,
As use of social media increases, physicians must learn to use social media and the Internet safely and appropriately. More and more, physicians risk violating professional boundaries—and sometimes the laws, rules and commission guidance—with their use of social media and the Internet. Additionally, the Internet and online review sites are increasingly forcing physicians to actively take steps to manage their online reputations and counter negative or inaccurate information. This presentation will cover applicable state and federal laws, such as HIPAA and the Washington State Uniform Health Care Information Act, guidance issued by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, and briefly look at some examples of social media use that—while completely legal—might do irreparable harm to a physician’s professional reputation.

Debt and Financial Management – Bob Perna,
After being a physician in training, your new income as a practicing physician will seem substantial. However, with limitless opportunities to spend money, you may find it difficult to save. This is the time to develop a “saving” lifestyle and spend money wisely. For the next three to five years, your time and energy will likely be focused primarily on your profession and family, rather than on financial planning for the future. Financial considerations are important to make now, however, and this presentation offers some simplified rules and suggestions for both new and seasoned physicians.


Tierney Edwards, JD is the associate director of legal and federal affairs at the WSMA. After completing her undergraduate education at the University of Washington, she graduated cum laude from Seattle University School of Law, focusing her coursework on health law. In 2011, she began working in the Chambers of the Honorable Benjamin Settle, at the federal district courthouse in Tacoma, Washington before joining the criminal division of the Seattle City Attorney’s office, handling appeals. Her continued and profound interest in health law led her to join WSMA’s legal department in 2013.

Katie Kolan, JD is the director of legislative and regulatory affairs for the WSMA. Katie oversees the association’s advocacy efforts before the state legislature, agencies and the governor’s office, and coordinates federal relations. Before working for the WSMA, Katie worked in the legislative and policy department of a state agency and for Sen. Ed Murray at the state legislature. She received her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law, was a visiting student at Seattle University School of Law, and passed the Washington state bar exam in 2010. Before and during law school, Katie worked in several capacities with law firms and a variety of nonprofit associations. She has been with the WSMA since 2011.

Denny Maher, MD, JD is the general counsel and director of legal affairs for the WSMA. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and his MD from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Dr. Maher completed a plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at UT-Houston and a hand surgery fellowship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston. He was an associate professor of surgery at UT-Houston where he was director of microsurgery and chief of the hand surgery service before entering private practice in Seattle in 1991. After leaving his medical practice, Dr. Maher received his law degree from the University of Washington in 2008. He has been with the WSMA since 2009.

Bob Perna, MBA, FACMPE is the director of practice support and health care economics for the WSMA. Bob oversees the WSMA’s practice management programs for physicians, practice managers and administrative staff. Bob has over 40 years’ experience in the health care industry, having held positions in professional relations with a major health insurer and in managerial positions in private medical practices and community health organizations. He also has taught instructional programs on medical practice administration and on procedural and diagnosis coding through the Seattle Community College District. He has a bachelor of arts in psychology and a master of business administration in health care management. Bob is a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives, is board certified as a certified medical practice executive through the Medical Group Management Association and is also a registered lobbyist in Washington state.