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Wanted: Innovators in D.C.

by Stephanie Zaremba, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs

One of the most popular – and powerful – buzzwords in Washington, D.C. is “innovation.” Just the mere mention of the word seems to generate a level of bipartisanship rarely seen in today’s political climate. After all, you can’t argue against innovation without seeming like a Luddite.

Buzzword or not, this trend has the potential to produce marked improvements in health care. Currently, members of both parties in Congress are spearheading legislative initiatives to modernize and accelerate the way we discover, develop, and deploy cures and treatments for our most vexing – and costly – diseases. At the center of these initiatives is, you guessed it, innovation.

This legislation will address a variety of topics easily categorized as “innovative” in today’s conversations: the use of tele-health technologies, the role of technology in payment and care delivery reform models, the ability of health IT platforms to interoperate, and the need for regulatory certainty among health IT developers.

In each case, policymakers need to know how innovators operate, the conditions they need to succeed, the barriers they face and, perhaps most important, where policy is and isn’t needed. Unfortunately, most innovators, like the entrepreneurs eagerly working to disrupt health care, don’t really have time to educate lawmakers in D.C. They’re too busy working day and night in their basements and garages, subsisting on razor-thin margins.

athenahealth knows that the innovators in health care need to have their voices heard while this legislation is being written. So, on June 1, we’ll be hosting our 2nd annual More Disruption Please (MDP) Hill Day, with CEOs from 25 of our MDP partner companies taking one day away from their growing companies to meet with Congressional staff in D.C. Their meetings will cover two topics:

  1. Encouraging the development and use of innovative technologies to improve care
  2. Promoting safety and innovation in health IT through an appropriate oversight framework

The law of unintended consequences tends to rule legislative process. We find that the best way to mitigate those unintended consequences is to make sure we do our part to educate lawmakers on our day-to-day reality.

And when it comes to educating lawmakers on innovation in health care, we can think of no better teachers than our MDP CEOs to infuse some reality into D.C. conversations.

Take it from athenahealth, a “little guy” company that’s quickly learning how to grow into a larger organization: The right perspective on innovation has to come from the trenches. It simply cannot be provided by trade organizations and cadres of lobbyists. It has to come from those that are on the cutting edge of disrupting the status quo.

If you will be in D.C. on June 1, please join us in the evening for a cocktail reception where you can mix and mingle with the entrepreneurs participating in our MDP Hill Day and talk with them about their experiences from the day. We’ll kick off the evening with a panel discussion on interoperability, featuring policy makers and MDP CEOs, moderated by our CEO and Co-founder, Jonathan Bush. It’s going to be a great night, and we hope you’ll join us.

MDP Hill Day Invite

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Submitted by John R. Graham - Monday, June 1, 2015

It sounds like a great event. Congratulations and keep up the good work.

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