Health Care Reform Event at L.A. Care Health Plan on March 21, 2012

IABC-LA presented a highly informative panel of communication experts to discuss “Communicating Complex Change: Health Care Reform” on March 21, 2012 at event program sponsor L.A. Care Health Plan’s headquarters.  Cheryl Farrell, Board Member of IABC-LA, moderated this invaluable panel session to share how local health care professionals are communicating the complex changes of health care reform to various audiences (Event Podcast).

The distinguished panel included Patricia Clarey, Senior VP, Chief Regulatory and External Relations Officer of Health Net ;  John Merryman, Senior Director, Marketing/PR of South Bay Family Health Care; Ronald Owens, Director, Corporate Communications of Kaiser Permanente Southern California; Elena Stern, Communications and Marketing Director of L.A. Care Health Plan; and Cheryl Fields Tyler, Owner and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting. The panel informed our chapter members how health care reform is being received and integrated by leading health care companies in Southern California (listen to the event podcast).

The panel discussion after a quick buffet dinner covered topics such as how this legislation is an extraordinary opportunity for innovation within the health care system as well as communications, how the new competitive environment created by mandating state-based Exchanges on individual policies will create positive benefits for consumers, and how do communicators break through to its new and existing audiences (we learned about the role and importance of Spanish-speaking Promotoras!)

So many advances have been made towards creating a communications system that is much more efficient than yesteryear including revolutionary a $5 billion electronic computerized patient records system as opposed to handwritten files and notes as discussed by Ron Owens of Kaiser Permanente.  Doctors are required to learn this system so a patient can be treated across states with tremendous efficiency.

Healthcare communications consultant Cheryl Fields Tyler emphasized the extraordinary opportunity for innovation that comes with such far-reaching legislature and how this is a game-changer for U.S. business overall.  She also emphasized the need for communicators to embrace and support the new legislation positively to create better understanding and trust between employers and employees.  Employees trust face-to-face meetings with direct managers.

Pat Clarey of Health Net has served as chief of staff to both former California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, with current Health Net responsibilities for federal and state regulatory, legislative and compliance issues.  Pat discussed the new legislative concept of “guaranteed issue” for individuals seeking individual insurance policies through the reform’s American Health Benefit Exchanges, which has not been offered in the current California landscape if an individual had a pre-existing condition such as asthma.

John Merryman of South Bay Family Health Care noted the importance of funders for newly established programs.  In his view “money follows money” and the health care reform will shift how funding funnels through non-profits as well as private health care companies.

Elena Stern of event sponsor L.A. Health Care Plan enlightened us on how significant the role and use of a Promotora, a female Spanish-speaking healthcare advocate, is to underserved communities needing an array of healthcare and healthcare related services.

Finally, audience participants engaged in a Q&A with more information shed on topics such as how doctors are receiving all of this new legislation.

Big thanks to “Communicating Complex Change: Health Care Reform” event committee including IABC-LA members Cheryl Farrell, Paromita Ghosh, Adam Kevorkian, T.J. Stevko and Cimone Farrell.  Bill Spaniel served as podcast engineer while Ed Carreon of provided photography.

The chapter also kindly thanks event sponsor L.A. Health Care Plan for its sponsorship and use of its downtown headquarters facilities.

Please click here to listen to the event podcast.