Another key ingredient to successful advocacy, Dr. Adams says, is fostering empathy. He explains, “My staff and I are empathetic toward patients, because we are dealing with them directly. But administrators are one or two steps removed.” Insurance company executives and policymakers are even more distant, so it may be more difficult for them to appreciate the real-life consequences of prior authorizations, step therapy or fail-first policies on patients’ everyday lives. Establishing those connections with policymakers, often through patient and first-person stories, can bridge the empathic gap and lead to incentives for policy change.
You Might Also Like
Also By This Author
Getting in the Game
Looking forward, the ASC will continue a push on PBM transparency. Dr. Adams reports that the ASC is discussing the formation of ad hoc workgroups to focus on specific issues instead of grouping state societies based on their region.
Both asserted the need for more rheumatologists to engage with their elective representatives. Mr. Cantrell notes that he has encountered reticence from some rheumatologists who are concerned that advocacy might endanger their state society’s nonprofit status. He notes that advocacy expenditures are allowable within the IRS guidelines and encourages all state societies to become more informed on what is and is not allowed. Dr. Adams notes that it’s also advantageous to connect with one’s state medical society to cooperate on legislative advocacy.
“There is strength in numbers,” he states, “and rheumatologists can find allies among oncologists, gastroenterologists, dermatologists and other medical specialists.”
Gretchen Henkel is an award-winning health and medical journalist based in California.