Happy 10th Anniversary NORM!

Where were you 10 years ago?

NORM was just getting started!

In 2004, a small group of rheumatologists created the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organization (CSRO). Their one mission: to advocate for excellence in the field of rheumatology. Together, they identified a need for managers in the physician offices to be involved in processes surrounding education, patient advocacy and partnering with the physicians to strengthen the rheumatology specialty. This type of partnership did not exist anywhere else. CSRO gathered 35-50 practice managers and physicians together in 2005 for a meeting in Baltimore, MD . A group of dedicated managers from that first meeting along with the mentoring of CSRO created an organization for the rheumatology practice managers. The National Organization of Rheumatology Managers was formed. In 2006 NORM hosted its first meeting in St. Petersburg, FL. Since then, NORM hasn’t stopped growing!

“To think we started with 25-35 practice manager members and as we come up on our 10th anniversary, we have close to 300 plus members in 43 states,” said past president Dave Rothhaas. “As NORM has grown, we have seen our members join forces in educating each other as well as advocating with patients for better patient outcomes.”

“In the 10 years that I have been involved in NORM, I have seen consistent growth in membership,” said founding member Linda McKee. “Each year at the annual meetings there are additional members from different regions of the country to meet with and share their perspectives on the changes and challenges in the healthcare field specific to rheumatology.”

What keeps NORM growing after 10 years?

It’s the people! Everyone involved makes this organization truly great. The collaborative, current NORM board, amazing past leadership and active membership really help identify the needs in the field of rheumatology and how to address them. Once the needs are recognized, the real work begins! Offering different avenues to address a host of topics in the field allows every NORM member the opportunity to learn the information they need in the way they want to receive it.

How does NORM address issues facing rheumatology managers, administrators and managing physician?

  • Networking Opportunities
  • Educational Portal
  • Educational Webinars
  • Annual NORM conference
  • NORM ListServ
  • Payers Page on Members’ Only Website

“The industry is constantly changing, most recently at a very fast pace. With Meaningful Use, ICD-10, the Affordable Care Act and the formation of ACO’s, NORM always seems to present whatever is forefront of the rheumatology practices’ most pressing agenda,” said Linda McKee. “The ListServ is a tremendous value to all who are a part of NORM. You have a question? Within minutes you have responses from all over the country!”

As past president of NORM for five years, Marji Collings also pointed to the perks NORM provides members. “NORM continues its mission of education through networking, an outstanding e-mail list serve and educational teleconference webinars brought into the practices. This along with the formation of Group Purchasing Organization has proven the power of NORM!”

“The meetings are robust in the ‘hot topics’ of interest. The ListServ serves as a conduit by which information is both requested and delivered. The NORM organization now has a voice. One that is heard as we advocate for patient access to therapy,” said current president Iris Nichols.

“Through the ListServ and National Conference, NORM has assisted its members by giving access to members to share ideas, develop networking models and improve their education so that members can compare notes and strategies to work through the issues of PA, EHR, PQRS, E-prescribe , MU and the myriad of regulations that have been thrown in our path by CMS, its MAC carriers and the insurance industry,” said Dave Rothhaas. “I believe one of the biggest accomplishments for NORM has been the ability for new members to the rheumatology field to get up to speed on issues and help their physicians develop practice models that allow for the practices to survive into the future.”

What does NORM have in store for the next 10 years?

As one of the members who helped start NORM and has seen it through the last 10 years, Reuben Allen may be one of the best people to talk to about where rheumatology and NORM have been, where they are now and where they’re going. “The industry has changed significantly since we first started and it appears in many cases. Payers continually change their guidelines and it appears at times they want to tell us how to practice medicine. Government has also introduced many changes such as EHR and soon to be ICD10,” he said. “All of these changes are increasing the cost of doing business and at the same time reimbursement is decreasing. I see NORM assuming a greater role in assisting managers in managing their practices in the most efficient manner and at the same time remaining compliant with new guidelines and regulations. I do not feel there is another rheumatology organization that can do it as well as NORM.”

Past president Dave Rothhaas is also optimistic. “As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a bright future for NORM, its members and the practices that our members work in,” he said. “We have momentum, we have strong leadership in place on the board of directors and a growing membership that understands and support the goals of NORM. I see us well positioned for the challenges that the future holds for us as an organization.”

When we asked current president Iris Nichols the same question, she smiled. “The organization [must] continue to enhance the rheumatology specialty by supplying practice managers with the opportunity to grow, learn and mentor through education, networking and partnering with physicians and industry to meet the needs of our patients. We have to be on our ‘A’ game all of the time in order to be successful and NORM is the driving force to make it happen,” she said. “NORM has begun to work smarter and is uniting our efforts along with industry to ensure better outcomes for our patients.”

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has helped NORM grow! We look forward to the next 10 years and more.

Posted by
  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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