Whose Agenda are You on?

Edition: December 2003 - Vol 11 Number 12
Article#: 1737
Author: Mark Thill

Nearing the end of the year, it's usually fitting for the editors of trade magazines - in their wisdom - to wax philosophically about the year just past. Well, you'll be happy to know that I have no wisdom! Nada. Therefore, you won't have to read my waxing or wax, or whatever you call it. That said, I know someone who does possess some wisdom. I'm referring to my wife's dad, Jack Schmetterer.

Having served as assistant state's attorney in Cook County (Chicago) in the 1960s and having worked for the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Jack has seen his share of political wars. Once, soon after I met him, he gave me this sage piece of advice: "Try to never get on anyone's agenda." Wow!

I often think about what Jack said. Unfortunately, I usually do so after I have already become part of someone's agenda, when it's too late to do anything about it. Once I was on a co-worker's agenda. I still cringe when I think about it. "I didn't ask for this," I remember telling myself at night - night after night, when I couldn't sleep. And I'm on my wife's agenda. A lot. I can feel it.

The problem is this: If you try to stay off someone's agenda before you even get on it, you risk coming across as sneaky, sleazy or sniveling. At best, you look like you have something to hide. At worst, you're a potential punching bag. And then, once you're on someone's agenda, well, you might as well go along for the ride, because you have very little control over when you'll be able to get off.

I was thinking about what Jack Schmetterer told me while speaking with Robert Betz, president and CEO of the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, for an article in this month's issue (page 38). He said that GPOs are no longer under the political radar screen. They're out there, baby. Now, I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. After all, when a handful of organizations exert control over billions of dollars of healthcare purchases, they should probably be on someone's agenda. We can only hope that everyone involved in this discussion - Repertoire readers, legislators, providers - play fair and stick to the issues at hand. And there's really only one issue worth thinking about: Are patients being taken care of in the best way possible? In other words, let's try to make being on someone's agenda - or putting someone on ours - not such a bad thing after all.

Still, I'm going to remember Jack's advice.