Health Care Reform: II

At the same time this last week as the United States Supreme Court opinion was awaited, the American Health Lawyers Association membership came together in Chicago for its Annual Meeting. A true happening, the annual meeting consists of more than three full days of programming where experienced lawyers, practitioners and consultants can speak and educate each other about what is happening in healthcare and law. Mark McClellan and Dr. Don Berwick were keynote speakers.

Neutrals (mediators, arbitrators, conflict managers) and consultants were among those discussing the issues implicated by health reform. A thread throughout any number of the programs was the need for new levels of collaboration. Questions addressed were, "What might these collaborations look like?" And, "How do we build them and contract for them?" We are talking about shared savings organizations and associations, telemedicine and new team service delivery models, establishing quality standards and benchmarks, and engaging medical staff in the kinds of quality work mandated by health reform.   

But as I have written before, collaboration doesn't just happen because one is ordered to collaborate, or because it says on paper that you will collaborate. (You can check out the July 2011 Post on this website.) Yes, being paid for demonstrating collaboration can certainly incentivize it but achieving the real thing still requires true buy in. Patrick Charmel, the transformative leader of the Griffin Hospital in Connecticut, stated in an interview years ago when the hospital had achieved a significant turnaround and was named a "Best Place to Work" that a key to achieving such success is making sure that employees have trust and pride in what the organization is doing and how it is doing it.

As my first posting today on health reform states, good communication will be a vital ingredient. Perhaps it will help to remember a new mantra: "Communicate early and often..." - to which we should add, "...and respectfully and honestly."





Jeanne Franklin