Put your advocacy where your tech is — How a new online platform is amplifying the political voice of physicians and healthcare leaders

Ayla Ellison (Twitter | Google+) - Print  | 

New laws and regulations continuously shape the healthcare industry and impact the way medical providers conduct business. Physicians and healthcare executives can help drive these changes by getting involved in the legislative process, but many fail to do so because they lack the time needed to research the issues and contact local, state, and federal lawmakers.

This article is sponsored by Zotec Partners

Physicians and healthcare executives are key decision-makers in a more than $3 trillion industry that touches the lives of nearly everyone at some point and influences life-or-death decisions. Yet all too often, legislators and policymakers devise solutions to some of the biggest issues in healthcare without input from these key stakeholders.

It isn't a novel idea for healthcare providers to have a say on issues affecting how care is provided or reimbursed. Not only are they uniquely qualified to educate lawmakers about healthcare issues, but they are also best suited to advocate for patients and the medical field. In fact, Americans identify physicians as the professionals most likely to make the right decisions for the nation's healthcare system.

Since many legislators and policymakers don't seek the input of physicians and healthcare executives, it is vital for healthcare industry leaders and professionals to take steps to ensure their voices are heard.  

Without input from healthcare professionals and physician stakeholders, state and federal mandates have the potential to negatively affect many aspects of healthcare business, including provider reimbursement and the quality of patient care, according to Mark Isenberg, executive vice president of healthcare advocacy at Zotec Partners, the country’s largest privately held provider of revenue cycle management services.

"It is very important for anyone who relies on the business of healthcare to track both state and federal laws and regulations because they have a tremendous ability to impact how you conduct business," he said.  

The importance of healthcare leader and physician involvement in the legislative and regulatory process in the U.S. cannot be overstated. By sharing their expertise and invaluable insight with legislators and policymakers, physicians and healthcare executives can influence legislation and regulations in a way that benefits both patients and healthcare providers.

How physicians and healthcare executives can put advocacy into practice

Most physicians and healthcare leaders interested in helping shape healthcare legislation and regulations do so through membership in medical societies or professional associations. These groups work hard to represent physicians and healthcare executives, but they do not have the bandwidth to provide input on every law, regulation, or rule implemented or altered at the state and federal level that influence the medical field.

Physicians and healthcare administrators rely on professional groups and associations to represent their legislative interests, but their demanding schedules leave little time to research the latest proposals and share their input directly with state and federal lawmakers.

"Physicians and healthcare executives are very busy, and they often don’t have the time or ability to email, call, or research social media handles for their local congressman or state senator," said Mr. Isenberg. "We wanted to figure out a way to streamline those communication outlets and arm them with the right information and tools to mobilize them better than before."

To help physician and healthcare stakeholders more effectively influence laws and policies in healthcare, the Zotec Political Action Committee (ZPAC) recently launched an intuitive website aimed at educating physicians and healthcare executives about state and federal legislative and regulatory issues currently affecting the business of healthcare.

ZPAC works closely with Zotec’s staff, physician clients, industry partners, and industry associations to notify physicians and healthcare administrators when there is a need to take action on a specific piece of legislation. Although there are major issues that need to be tracked at the federal level, such as continued efforts to alter the ACA, Mr. Isenberg said changes are more abundant at the state level.  

"There are a lot of federal laws that need to be watched and monitored, but it's gridlocked there," Mr. Isenberg said. "A lot of these issues are being addressed at the state level. States have the ability to make changes much more swiftly."

To ensure physicians and healthcare executives are never bogged down, ZPAC only notifies them of legislative and policy changes that could potentially affect their business. For example, a physician in Boston would receive updates on legislative changes occurring in Massachusetts and at the federal level.

To help ensure physicians and healthcare administrators do not miss the opportunity to share their input on legislation, ZPAC’s platform provides several easy ways for them to share their expertise and insight with lawmakers. One option is to send a pre-written email message directly to state and federal legislators. This allows physicians and healthcare executives to engage in public policy without spending hours drafting letters.

The ZPAC platform also provides physicians and healthcare executives with an easy way to make phone calls to lawmakers about bills under consideration and gives them the ability to address social media messages, posts, or Tweets directly to state and federal representatives. The unfettered access to lawmakers provided by social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can yield powerful and sometimes viral results, especially when leveraged in combination with phone calls, emails, and letters on each issue.  

"We're trying to mobilize our clients in coordination and in conjunction with many societies that we interact with to really bring to bear the physician and healthcare executive voice at both the state house and the federal level," Mr. Isenberg said. “Essentially, we’re giving people all the information and tools they need to take political action on legislation that impacts their business, in two or three clicks of a button.”

He emphasized that physicians and healthcare executives need to ramp up their advocacy efforts to ensure their voices are not drowned out by input from groups and individuals with conflicting agendas.   

"Physician and healthcare administrators' voices have been muted to some extent over the years primarily because of who they're fighting against," Mr. Isenberg said. "If you look at insurance carriers, they carry a big stick. They spend a lot of time, money, and effort lobbying in state houses and Washington, D.C."

Without insight from physicians and healthcare leaders, state and federal lawmakers may be unaware of how their proposed legislation might negatively affect the healthcare community. Physicians and healthcare executives have a powerful voice, and the ZPAC platform provides them with intuitive, time-saving tools they can use to be heard.

Healthcare organizations must swiftly adjust to new laws and regulations

When new laws or regulations are implemented at the state or national level, it is vital for healthcare organizations to quickly make the changes necessary to comply.

In addition to making physicians and healthcare administrators aware of legislative proposals that could affect their businesses while giving them simple ways to take action, ZPAC’s other main objective is to provide alerts when new laws and regulations are passed.

"Once these laws are signed, it's incumbent upon everyone to follow them," Mr. Isenberg said, "and we at Zotec Partners need to make sure our RCM clients are aware of them since some regulations could impact their business, for better or worse."

It can be difficult for healthcare providers to keep up with every new law and regulation enacted, especially if they operate in more than one state. Rolling out new policies and procedures at their facilities to comply with new mandates can also be complicated.

By providing timely notifications to physicians and healthcare administrators, ZPAC helps ensure these stakeholders are aware of changes their organizations need to make in order to comply with new legislative and regulatory requirements.

Conclusion

Due to the sheer volume of legislative and regulatory proposals, it is extremely difficult for physicians and healthcare administrators to track all of the potential changes in their industry and nearly impossible for them to provide input on each one.

The ZPAC platform addresses this challenge by alerting stakeholders of new legislation that could affect their businesses, providing them with legislative notifications and multiple ways to take political action in the click of a button.

Physicians and healthcare administrators have not fully leveraged their influence in terms of political advocacy, but it is critical for them to get more involved because it can greatly impact their business, according to Mr. Isenberg.

"They need to get off the bench, and they need to start participating because their business could be changed by the stroke of a pen," he said.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.zotecpac.com.








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