Cleveland Clinic's Cosgrove: Obamacare now 'part of the fabric' of the U.S.

Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove said at PRWeek's annual conference on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be repealed. He also described how it's forced hospitals to change the way they communicate with their employees and patients.

The Cleveland Clinic's Toby Cosgrove and PRWeek editor-in-chief Steve Barrett at the PRWeek Conference in New York. (Photo credit: Alison Kanski).

NEW YORK: Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove said at the PRWeek Conference in New York on Thursday morning that the pharmaceutical industry has a responsibility to manage drug costs without the government stepping in.

He also explained how the Affordable Care Act has affected everyone in the U.S. and changed the healthcare system, much like Social Security and Medicare did decades ago. Therefore, it’s unlikely to be repealed, he added.

"The name of the bill is ‘Affordable’ and the key is to make healthcare affordable," he said. "It’s virtually impossible to see this bill in any way repealed; its politically untenable. The Affordable Care Act has become part of fabric of the United States."

However, Obamacare also means that hospitals have to proactively communicate with the public about the effects of the healthcare-reform law.

"You have to go to the public, which has to understand the potential of the change, and go to the caregivers, who have to change how they deliver care," Cosgrove said. "Both require a tremendous amount of communication."

To reach the next generation of patients, Cleveland Clinic has adopted new technologies to give consumers access to its services. After receiving feedback from patients, the hospital created an app to reach more people without them having to travel or call, streamlined its emergency-room systems, and began offering same-day appointments.

"We’ve adopted a policy that you ought to be able to get your healthcare anywhere, anytime," Cosgrove said. "I envision a day when you have a hospital building with no beds, no exam rooms, and people looking screens all over the place."

He also noted the importance of keeping employees informed. With the hospital network expanding globally with new locations in Abu Dhabi and one planned for London, communicating with staff is crucial to running the system.

The network has 49,000 staffers around the globe, including 3,400 doctors and 14,000 nurses. It also has locations in Toronto; Las Vegas; and Weston, Florida.

"You can never communicate too much," Cosgrove said. "I don’t think you can begin to move and change an organization without people understanding what you’re doing and why you’re doing it."

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