Publisher’s Letter

2020 Federation of American Hospitals Conference

My compliments to Kerry Price and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) team for a great conference in Washington, D.C. Each year, the FAH Conference is at the top of my list of industry events to attend, and this year did not disappoint!

Yet, as I walked through the Atlanta airport to catch my flight to D.C., the airport had an odd feel to it. The coronavirus was certainly on many travelers’ minds and created a solemn setting. Many people wore non N95 masks, which was a bit unsettling. It made me question whether they were sick, or just trying to protect themselves.

I didn’t see anyone at FAH wearing a mask of any type, but I did notice many people chose to forego the customary handshake or hug in exchange for a nod or an elbow bump. Grasping hands with others was certainly on everyone’s mind when they encountered someone.

I have been to more than 20 of FAH conferences through the years, and I remember vividly during the swine flu era the amount of people coughing, sneezing and sniffling through the plenary sessions. It was very different this year; it seems people not feeling well wisely chose to stay home. Hopefully that will become a widely accepted norm.

I thought I’d share some takeaways from the meeting that I found interesting, important or new:

No. 1: The political atmosphere in D.C. is gloomy. While this is no surprise, here are some factors that may shed light on the reasons why:

  • We have a very divided country, and it doesn’t seem that unifying is at the top of President Donald Trump’s to-do list. He’s focused on two things – completing his agenda, and his re-election campaign.
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s defining agenda objective will be addressing drug costs.
  • President Trump’s Executive Orders on healthcare are to:
    1. Dilute the ACA
    2. Erode Medicaid
  • Attack high drug prices
  1. Expose hospital pricing
  2. Push Medicare advantage

No. 2: Nurses, doctors and hospitals are all viewed favorably, while insurance and drug companies are viewed unfavorably. This is interesting if you think about it. The frontline care givers are well liked by Americans, but the big, profitable insurers and drug makers are not. Hospitals are still viewed favorably but are slipping because Americans are starting to associate hospitals with rising healthcare costs.

No. 3: The presidential election will be decided by 300,000 to 400,000 people in about 10 regions of the country. These few swing regions are key to deciding whether President Trump gets another term.

No. 4: Ken Kuiper of Medical Strategies International did a great job presenting the Corris Boyd award to Kevin Price, senior director, supplier diversity at Novant Health.

The award is to honor the late Corris Boyd, whose vision of building a better way to live and work through leadership and diversity was embodied in the many accomplishments for which he is known. The Corris Boyd Leadership and Diversity Award honors an individual or company that has made an outstanding contribution in fostering leadership and workplace diversity in the healthcare industry.

For 14 years, Kevin Price has supported and featured historically under-utilized businesses. In 2019, Novant’s support of these businesses reached over $1 billion in spend.

Congrats to Kevin on the award. It is well deserved!

No. 5: Value analysis is here to stay and suppliers planning to gain market share need to find a way to make value analysis a competitive advantage. The providers presenting on value analysis emphasized that sales and marketing collateral is not what they want in the information packet. The million dollar takeaway on value analysis is that every IDN in the country does it differently, so suppliers better know their clients and prospects well to succeed in the process.

No. 6: The new leasing regulations are a big deal for capital suppliers. How IDNs book acquisitions of capital has big consequences on the operating expense budget, capital budget and balance sheet. Suppliers that can help IDNs understand the pros and cons of the buy-versus-lease decision in the era of these new regulations will certainly be viewed as a trusted advisor.

If we connected in D.C., it was great to see you! If not, hopefully we will next year!

All the best,

John Pritchard