Publisher’s Letter: Two Games

Edition: April 2014 - Vol 22 Number 04
Article#: 4457
Author: Brian Taylor

We are witnessing extraordinary times in healthcare. There is a lot going on, I am sure everyone would agree. But until recently, I had been unable to put my finger on why it seems so disconcerting.

Surely we all know about the Affordable Care Act and healthcare reform – although probably none of us know as much about the details as we should – but we assuredly know more about it than our leaders in government. For many of us, we expected the changes resulting from ACA to play out clearly as we went about our business of supplying providers with products and services that enable them to deliver quality healthcare to their patients. Therein lies the rub.

The ACA really is its own game – separate from what we do on a daily basis. Conversations surrounding the ACA usually never really tie it in to the challenges we face. It seems almost peripheral in our view. It is as if there are two baseball games going on at the same time on a field where first base for one game is third base for the other. They don’t intersect a lot, but when they do it could spell trouble.

The ACA has politics and fireworks and drama, and it affects everyone individually, even if they are unaware. Over time, everyone will gain a better understanding of what the ACA means to them. But for now it remains its own seemingly self-contained tangled ball of yarn. It has been amended more than 30 times, arguably not to improve it but rather for political reasons. Imagine how hard it is for someone not in the healthcare industry to try to keep up with the latest changes to the law! The initial problems that are capturing headlines are at the personal level – we are already hearing about them – although Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid says they are all fictional.

Our slice of the industry has yet to feel the direct impact of the law – partly because it has not been implemented fully and changes almost weekly. That seems like good news to me. It allows us more time to prepare and watch from the sidelines of “our game” to see how the “other game” develops. Oh, we will continue to hear about outcomes and quality of care, but for now we still hear about price more than anything. At least we are used to that song. We should be good by now at steering that conversation to value and quality.

On the proactive side, as suppliers we know more than our physician customers at this point (and the systems that have been buying them up). They have been in transition over the past few years from clinicians/business owners to clinicians/employees. That is a daunting change for most. Continue to stay on top of your game, but keep a close eye on the other game as well. It will position you to be of greater value to your customers – both old and new.

Good selling!

Brian Taylor