Healthcare debate neglects the obvious

As the debate over healthcare reform continues in Washington, so does the competitive polling. I was struck by this recent survey from Chandler Chicco Co. that showed an overwhelming number of doctors and nurses were disappointed with the healthcare debate. More than disappointed, they feel left out.

As the debate over healthcare reform continues in Washington, so does the competitive polling. As someone who rarely takes the time to answer a poll, I generally remain skeptical of the results. Nonetheless I was struck by this recent survey from Chandler Chicco Co. that showed an overwhelming number of doctors and nurses were disappointed with the healthcare debate. More than disappointed, they feel left out.

Of the more than 800 polled, two-thirds of the physicians and 53% of nurses said they believed their expertise was barely considered in the debate. In addition, 43% of the doctors and 54% of the nurses said they also haven't received enough information to understand the potential policy changes.

In basic campaign strategy, PR pros will say identify your goals, and then identify the tools to get you there, including the right influencers within your target audience.

Healthcare professionals clearly are a top stakeholder in any healthcare reform legislation that may or may not pass, making this a missed opportunity on many levels. Yes, both sides have reached out to the various sectors of the healthcare community in order to rally them for their respective positions – just the other week President Obama hosted doctors at the Rose Garden – but it seems the level of engagement with this critical group has missed the mark.

Combine this with a September Gallup poll that showed Americans trust doctors to make a sound decision on healthcare reform over any other group, including the President, and you have an even bigger missed opportunity. Gallup found that 73% of the public are confident in doctors; healthcare professors and researchers were No. 2, hospitals No. 3, Obama No. 4 with 58%, and much further down is pharma at 40% trust, and Republican leaders ranked last with 34%.

Politics, of course, will cloud even the most astute thinker's vision. And most brand campaigns will never face so many competing agendas, or the minutiae of healthcare reform. But the disillusionment of doctors amid this debate is inexcusable. They're a key stakeholder, and a key influencer. That politicians have failed to capture this group's attention and respect should serve as a reminder of the importance of discipline in a campaign. And moreover, that sometimes the most obvious solutions are right in front of us.

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