The Politics of Healthcare wrap up

Thank you to our wonderful sponsor KPMG and our excellent panellists John McDonough and Marie Bismark.  What an amazing and enlightening discussion, moderated by Euan Wallace, on “The Politics of Healthcare”.

Here’s the wrap up:

  1. Politics and Healthcare

The two are inextricably linked and inseparable.  In many countries, universal healthcare coverage is an accepted right; in others, it’s still contested terrain today.  It’s a very complex equation.  The health care system we have today is influenced by political history:  in Australia, this is the funding divide between states / territories and the Federal government; in the USA, “socialist thinking” is not in the psyche of many.  The current political turmoil globally reminds us of the fragility of the system and the effect this can have on public sector services such as health and education. 

  • Note Who’s Communicating the Message

Professional organisations, who are seeking promotion of their specific view, are very wily, well-funded and have enormous depth:  they’re good at defending their turf.  They are extremely effective in knowing what processes to play and how best to play them. For example, don’t be fooled by opinions / viewpoints / critiques made by “astroturf consumers” who look like grassroots consumers who are actually more professional than you think!  So, make sure you look well into the roots and background of the advocates to really understand the essence of the message and underlying motivation. 

  • Effecting Change and Influencing Healthcare Provisions and Healthcare Itself

The best influence is often from the ground-up.  With a focused message, we need the power of not only the patient voice but also the community voice.  This was clearly demonstrated by the Obamacare experience when the threat of repeal was on the horizon.  Sometimes, even a single piece of research can produce impactful change, especially when the timing is right.  For example, the regulation of surgeons at 70 or above was instituted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Australia – this was done prior to the full publication of the underlying research.  We are reminded we all have a role to always treat patients with care and compassion. 

  • Make the Message Personal

Politics is personal; so, with the right content, make the message and interaction compelling and commensurate.  Understand your politician’s motivation and, if it aligns, the opportunity to make an impact is there.   As an individual, it’s a matter of having your “compass setting right” and seizing the opportunity when it’s available.  

  • Don’t Lose Faith

The Millennials are big influencers and are being educated, quickly.  The results of the recent Federal elections, both here and in the US, were a bit of a surprise.  It’s been an awakening.  The Millennials are a very compelling consumer segment and can force change by politicising their purchases.  

The final word from our panellists:

  • Small groups of citizens can make a difference; and
  • Be optimistic that, in the long-term, we will change things.

Additional links if you’re seeking a better understanding to what’s happening in the US and an explanation about how the US government is set-up and how it functions (James Madison’s Federalist Papers #10 and #51) plus links to Marie Bismark’s research on “identification of practitioners at high risk of complaints” and the NY Times article on surgeon retirement and mandatory screening: