A cardinal rule of public relations in government – especially in the federal government – is that media questions are generally vetted, carefully considered, and sometimes even internally debated by a communications team and their executives before meticulously crafted responses are issued.
That being the case, one moment in particular illustrated for Nancy Beckley that Monitor Mondays had firmly established itself as a trusted and respected pioneer in national healthcare news.
“We (always) set ourselves up at the (HCCA) Compliance Institute … we perched ourselves right outside the actual assembly room where (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General) Dan Levinson was always giving his keynote speech. And for several years in a row, we were able to interview Dan,” recalled Beckley, a veteran senior national correspondent for the weekly live internet broadcast produced by RACmonitor.com. “At first, we were going through his PR people, and getting all of our questions approved … but finally, I think the last year that Dan worked with us, he said, ‘I trust you guys, let’s just roll the tape and get going. I know that we’re going to do really well.’”
The second week of January marks the 10-year anniversary of the launch of Monitor Mondays, which has featured a nonstop parade of esteemed subject matter experts appearing over the course of hundreds of broadcasts that have drawn hundreds of thousands of listeners and playbacks.
“(Those) rank among my favorite and most consequential outreach opportunities,” Levinson remarked of the HCCA Monitor Mondays broadcasts. “During my tenure as Inspector General of Health and Human Services, I found these broadcasts to be a uniquely valuable communications vehicle for reaching healthcare compliance officials to discuss OIG investigative and regulatory developments, and their practical implications for providers.”
“As the compliance mission becomes more central to enterprise success (in healthcare), having the right information-gathering and networking opportunities is critical,” Levinson added. “Through its weekly broadcasts, RACmonitor provides a highly efficient and timely service, precisely to meet these ever-growing needs.”
Levinson was one of 10 industry leaders who recently recorded testimonials to mark the 10-year anniversary of the broadcast, the public face of which has been RACmonitor.com Publisher and Monitor Mondays Program Host and Executive Producer Chuck Buck.
“RACmonitor was launched in 2008, because at that time, the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program was gaining traction. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had recently concluded a demonstration (pilot) of the RAC concept with four states, and the consensus was that CMS would move forward, and so we wanted to alert hospitals to this new development,” Buck recalled of the genesis of the website – and the broadcast. “Our goals then are the same goals today, and these include monitoring and alerting providers of approved RAC issues; reporting on apparent abuses of auditors; monitoring proposed and final rules from CMS (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services); reporting on possible compliance risks; and reporting on the appeal process by the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals.”
Monitor Mondays’ contemporary popularity is reflected by its circulation, with nearly 12,400 subscribed to listen in each week – more than two listeners for each of the estimated 5,500-6,000 hospitals currently operating in the U.S.
Among those listeners, as many as 1,000 tune in live each Monday morning, and far more take in the recorded podcast, which from 2018 into 2019 boasted more than 250,000 replays across the various streaming platforms that now offer it, a list that includes Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, and Stitcher.
For the last two years, RACmonitor readers participating in the website’s annual survey have ranked Monitor Mondays as the single most popular feature of the site, with the most popular topics including updates to total knee arthroplasty billing, Medicare Advantage plans, and inpatient-versus-outpatient billing and reimbursement.
Some nationally recognized figures who appear regularly on the broadcast include Dr. Ronald Hirsch, vice president of the Regulations and Education group at R1 Physician Advisory Services, and a member of the Advisory Board for the American College of Physician Advisors; Stanley Nachimson, principal of the health IT consulting firm Nachimson Advisors, who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for 30 years; Shannon Deconda, founder and president of the National Alliance of Medical Auditing Specialists (NAMAS) and principal/president of coding and billing services at DoctorsManagement LLC; J. Paul Spencer, senior healthcare consultant at DoctorsManagement; Angela M. Phillips, President, and CEO of Images & Associates; Andrew B. Wachler, principal of Wachler & Associates; and David Glaser, a shareholder in Fredrikson & Byron’s Health Law Group.
“You have provided an incredible service to the industry by making experts available on a timely basis to address new developments and issues regarding Medicare reimbursements and audit reviews. The combination of live broadcasts, available articles, and podcasts keep the industry informed and able to deal with the frequent changes in the field,” Nachimson said during his recorded testimonial. “It has been my honor to participate in just a few of these broadcasts and to listen to many of them. The production staff has always been top-notch, and the broadcast quality reflects that.”
“Although Monitor Mondays is 10 years old, I’ve only been participating since about 2012. I remember doing my first Monitor Mondays broadcast, filling in for Dr. Steven Meyerson. I was as nervous as could be. I got this very serious-looking email from Jes, the producer at the time, with what seemed like 20 things I had to do in preparation. I called in early, as instructed, so I wouldn’t be in trouble, and … I made it through the first one, and it went from there,” Hirsch recalled. “I’m humbled by all the people who log in to listen each week, especially Monday morning, when everybody has a million things to do to catch up after the weekend. The fact that they choose to listen to Monitor Mondays means the world to me.”
Ellen Fink-Samnick, a relatively new addition to the regular broadcast lineup and an expert in the social determinants of health (SDoH), said she was excited to join what she described as a “brain trust of healthcare compliance.”
“I so value sharing all that is new in the world of the social determinants with our listeners each week. However, of greater value is what I learn from the interactions with this panel and my colleagues,” she said. “Our Monitor Mondays listeners are engaged and motivated, a necessity to assure their organizations stay in the know. Empowering their efforts is a gift, and from my lens, one of the greatest gifts a professional can ask for.”
Looking to the future, Buck pledged that professionals from every corner of the healthcare industry can continue to rely on the website and the broadcast to stay at the vanguard of every relevant change that comes along – which, if the last few years are any indication, are sure to be many.
“RACmonitor and Monitor Mondays will continue to be the single most important source of regulatory and audit news and information,” Buck said. “Both entities will continue to focus on the interaction of the federal government with healthcare providers – provider settings in acute care, ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), and rural health, as well behavioral health, including the social determinants of health.”
Monitor Mondays will mark its 10th anniversary with an extended, hour-long broadcast, its first of the new calendar year, at 9 a.m. CST on Monday, January 13. Register to listen live to Monitor Mondays or stream the podcast on the RACmonitor.com or by searching for the Monitor Mondays podcast on any of the aforementioned streaming services.
To listen to a special edition anniversary podcast of testimonials from our esteemed panel: