AAMC policy leader calls on medical school, teaching hospitals

In the midst of healthcare change and new health directives, academic medical centers, including medical schools and teaching hospitals like those in the Texas Medical Center, need to take action in the area of health policy, seeking to mold legislation and new initiatives rather than be buffeted by them, said the chief public policy officer for Association of American Medical Colleges in a presidential lecture at Baylor College of Medicine.

“How do we prove to policy makers that what we are doing, particularly peer-initiated investigations, are valuable for the public,” said Dr. Atul Grover. One way to do that is publicize the work, he said. AAMC is already doing that through a Tumblr blog.

He also said that researchers, medical school and teaching hospital leaders need to describe the effects of budget cuts in terms that legislators can understand.

Understandable language

He advised discussing “the fact that our purchasing power has not gone up in 10 years and is not going to begin to return to current levels until 2017. How many faculty have stopped doing research and stopped being a double or triple threat and said they need to earn more RVUs (the relative value units that are the basis of Medicare reimbursement)? How many patients were affected that you were not able to enroll in clinical trials? How many future scientists are you not training?”

While the Congress is gridlocked in Washington, D.C., academic medical centers cannot halt their work. He advised that such centers begin to determine what is most important to them and what they want to accomplish when those in the House of Representatives and the Senate are ready to begin legislating again.

Such activities are best undertaken as a coherent strategy, he said.

“Don’t navigate the system alone,” he warned. He suggested contacting institutional government relations and communications professionals to coordinate activities and make sure that individual voices are heard.

This story originally appeared in From the Laboratories, a monthly online newsletter about research at the College. Subscribe to From the Laboratories online.

By Ruth SoRelle, MPH

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