Let’s get Together!

A subject of discussion during the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section Annual Conference  (EMI)  in February 2013 was adapting to changes spurred by health reform. It’s on everyone’s mind. One health plan speaker said it is “heavy lifting” for them right now; they must learn what is required of them, then figure out how to do it, and get used to doing things differently. None of it is easy, he said.

One participant asked what can be done to “influence physicians to change?” One answer given was “Money,” followed by, “But it doesn’t take much.” In my opinion, that doesn’t take into account how much is expected of health care providers, and therefore what will help them achieve credible change goals. If it is heavy lifting for business people, can't you imagine that it is at least that for doctors and nurses who are expected to practice medicine differently after years of medical training and experience?

Achieving alignment and collaboration popped up frequently in conversation at the EMI with the question being, “How do we make it happen?” Jane Reister Conard and I are among those who have been writing and speaking for years about the imperatives of collaboration in healthcare, and the skills needed to develop it. Our quick answer is, “At the very least, it takes time, skill, perseverance, respect and good intentions from top down.”

Please strongly consider these additional answers and information:

1. Healthcare attorneys might envision their changing roles and skills needed to lead clients through collaboration and team building as well as problem solving. It’s a different game for our clients; that calls for some different skills on the lawyers’ part so that we are as helpful as possible to their achieving collaboration.

  • Please see the outline, titled, “Health Care Attorney Role…” posted under the EADR menu tab on this website. It offers a shorthand framework for your initiation into this practice area.
  • Other material on the EADR Tab’s menu should further help health law attorneys get started.

2. Healthcare attorneys and their clients should attend skills training programs to enhance their competence in this area

  • EADRSolutions® has developed an onsite, intensive training program for leaders and players, including lawyers, in healthcare facilities to help them acquire skills to facilitate consideration of strategies to effect change, and to deal with the inevitable differences of opinion, tensions and conflicts that arise. The success of the training pilot program has led to the decision to offer this program through the AHLA Dispute Resolution Service. Contact AHLA’s Geoff Drucker (202-833-6945) or Carine Brice (202-833-0762) to learn how to access this course and to learn more about it.
  • Interest in attorneys’ learning these skills was also a focus at the EMI conference discussed above. Debra Gerardi and Charity Scott, who have also been writing and teaching in this area, taught an afternoon program along with Jeanne Franklin for attorneys wishing to acquire skills and understanding about conflict competence in healthcare. It was very well received. A number of other health lawyers at the conference expressed curiosity and interest in communicating with each other about this work, and ways for us to share experiences as well as information. Please contact Jeanne Franklin at this office (jfranklin@franklinsolutions.net) with your comments and interest

It will take a lot to bring value from the healthcare changes facing us. Let’s get together and shoulder this job with the dedication and energy we expect from healthcare professionals. It may be heavy lifting for all players in the years to come but the old saying is that many hands make light work. Lawyers are well positioned to collaborate with clients and other leaders to help clients get through it and with flying colors.

©Jeanne F. Franklin, March 1, 2013