Health Care: The Personal Is Political Is Professional

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By DJ Edgerton

Initiatives are underway from a variety of organizations to reform – and re-form – health care in the United States.

For instance, digital health records. Microsoft and Google have thrown their hats in the ring. The long-term answer to this dilemma is, in one sense, really easy. Yes, of course: health records have to be digitized. It’s madness to think of such vital data being scattered, not synchronized, not backed up.

But in another sense, the long-term answers are incredibly difficult: how? When? Where? By whom?

Insurance, and the federal government’s work to change the current system, is a dilemma better left to more specialized writers and longer-winded forums. Simply put, though (as web designer, husband of dooce.com writer Heather, and blogger Jon Armstrong pointed out), insurance is by definition collectivist – everyone chipping in to help the few who need help – so dramatic gasps about socialism do seem to miss the point.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, it’s probably easier to agree that pharmaceutical corporate entities can, should, and will have a responsibility to be part of the political discussions taking place. Some argue that their for-profit status biases them. Of course it does. But you’d be hard-pressed to find more experts about the health care system than ones whose livelihood depend on understanding it, so that may be a bias that just has to be accounted for and worked with.

The government affairs offices and teams of pharma companies ought to be busier right now than at any point in history. However, their employees should also take that same responsibility to their company’s leadership.

Do you know what your corporate stance is? You ought to, and if you don’t, you should find out.

And does your company care about what its employees think? It ought to, and if it isn’t asking, it should be.

And here’s where you, dear reader, probably fit in. Because if you care about social media and work in pharma, there’s a good chance that you have something to do with the communications infrastructure of one of these organizations.

Is there a way for employee’s opinions to be transmitted up to senior leadership, anonymously or at least without negative repercussions?

If there isn’t, there should be, and if you are able to make that happen, you should.

And, of course, this is where social media can help. Proactively, you can solicit opinions, personal stories and research help. Reactively, you can also see what’s being said about your organization’s involvement.

The personal IS political when it comes to health care. But for many of us, like it or not, it’s also professional. It’s an awkward juggling act, balancing the three. But it’s one that we need to do properly. And as communicators in pharma, it’s one that we have a responsibility to helping others do, too.

What are your thoughts on this subject the press and the parties are having some much fun with?

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