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Posted on 03.13.2014

Cloudy and Cool in our Nation’s Capitol

The Nashville Health Care Council has closed the book on another highly successful Leadership Health Care Delegation to Washington, D.C. The NashvillePost, as always, did a great job of covering highlights of the Delegates' discussions with numerous elected representatives, business leaders, regulatory officials and "inside the beltway" journalists with whom the group met.

Our firm was delighted to serve as a sponsor of the trip for the third consecutive year. We couldn't help but notice mood in D.C. was similar to the weather: partly cloudy and predicted to stay that way. Though several speakers expressed optimism about the bi-partisan, bi-cameral agreement reached regarding the Sustainable Growth Rate, everyone acknowledged that getting it paid for will be another tough climb. There's not much optimism - or much fun - in our nation's Capitol, these days. 

In addition to the key takeaways reported in the Post, I found a few other items worth noting:

  • Kentucky Senator Rand Paul declared that independent physician practice is essentially "over." Administrative and regulatory requirements are too onerous and margins are too slim for private physicians to maintain their own small businesses.
  • Paul also opined that the political mix in DC -even after the mid-term elections later this year - makes repeal of the Accountable Care Act unlikely.
  • A representative from the American Hospital Association predicted that some hospitals will inevitably close as providers continue to consolidate - though he was quick to dispel the myth that a handful of "super systems" will take over the industry in the next five to 10 years.
  • Personalized medicine and gene-based therapies and diagnostics will become increasingly relevant and commercially available. That would be good news for companies like 23andme, the genetic testing company whose health-related genetic testing services were effectively shuttered by the FDA last November.

And as a professional communicator, I was struck by how many of the Delegation's discussions circled (if peripherally) on the topic of communications. The need to educate the newly insured on how to access care. The need to make healthcare quality and cost data not only transparent, but understandable. And the perennial need for both systems and individuals to connect - virtually and personally - to better share data with the end-goal of improving patient care and enhancing the patient experience.

If ever there was a time when healthcare communicators could make a difference in our society, I'm optimistic the time is now!

 

Rosemary Plorin is President of Lovell Communications.  You can view more of her blog posts here. Connect with her at rosemary@lovell.com or @plorin.  

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