Matthew Sideman, MD, and Megan Marcinko, MPS, unveil new advocacy column aimed at drilling into the actions of Congress, and how they impact vascular surgery. The first in the series looks at advocacy as a tool to “protect.”
Welcome to “Government Grand Rounds,” where we will examine and discuss how the actions of Congress and regulatory agencies affect vascular surgeons and the patients they serve, and importantly, how sustained advocacy engagement is important for all SVS members.
“Advocacy” continues to rank high among SVS member priorities, and yet many remain unsure how to support SVS advocacy-related programs, what activities are available and how to measure success along the way.
Foundational in this series is the notion that perspective matters. Like all aspects of life, the importance of any given activity, goal or initiative is measured via the eye of the beholder. Advocacy is no different, with everyone engaging, or not engaging, based on their interests, level of understanding and sense of urgency related to the issue at hand.
To enhance our perspectives on advocacy, this series will highlight some of the most important tools that advocacy provides us. This month we will examine advocacy as a tool to protect. How does “protect” relate to advocacy? As you may have guessed, it depends on your perspective and what you believe your role in the healthcare delivery system to be. Consider the following: as a vascular surgeon, is it “part of the job” to do the following and, if so, how?
- Protect patient access to care
- Protect the physician-patient relationship
- Protect the future of private/community practice
- Protect the autonomy of physician decision-making
- Protect the value of quality vascular care
Lawmakers and regulators are constantly considering health policy-related changes that will impact the practice of medicine. Stakeholder engagement is among the few tangible mechanisms for policy-makers to learn and, hopefully better understand, the real-time impact of their decisions. Absent sustained engagement from those within the healthcare delivery system, lawmakers lack the perspective relating to what a suggested policy (which may look good on paper) would mean in a practical or operational sense. In other words, becoming involved in advocacy is a tangible action to protect against bad policy becoming law and help to reinforce and/or shape the system in which you are providing care for your patients.
While this might seem like a simplistic perspective, it is actually a realistic assessment relating to the value of advocacy. If the SVS, as a whole and via its individual members, fails to engage in the policy-making process, we are ceding the collective expertise of our members and the importance of this experience regarding how policy translates to practice.
You may have heard the saying, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Let’s work together to engage policy-makers to the greatest extent possible. By doing so, we can not only secure our seat at the table, but also play a role in determining what is served.
For more information about how the SVS’ Advocacy programs help protect vascular surgeons and the patients you serve, visit vascular.org/advocacy.