In fact, Mr. Slavitt’s Twitter persona is not random. It’s part of a plan. Mr. Slavitt has said that his Twitter presence is specifically being cultivated in order to demystify the large and often opaque government agency that he runs. Doing so, he says, “scares the crap out of my colleagues” at CMS, who aren’t used to such a frank and occasionally brusque approach to online PR. This reflects precisely why Mr. Slavitt’s tweets are so informative. When a government agency has a real person responding in real human ways, things may indeed get a little messy, but people feel like they can be a part of the process. Even critics are more likely to engage. The 12,000-plus followers Mr. Slavitt has amassed in just a few months seem to agree.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 36 – No 02 – February 2017
Also in agreement is health care reporter Dan Diamond (@DDiamond) of Politico, who invited Mr. Slavitt to be the first guest on his new weekly podcast, “Pulse Check,” which is available online or on iTunes. In that first interview published in April 2016, Mr. Diamond somewhat affectionately branded Mr. Slavitt as “remarkably liberated to weigh in on the issues of the day” on Twitter (said with a chuckle). In other words, he called Mr. Slavitt out on being unexpectedly “real” on Twitter. Mr. Slavitt agreed and acknowledged that it was part of a plan to get ahead of problems and to have a “good offense” when it comes to policy rollout at the federal level. Whether you agree with CMS policy, I believe the strategy has been effective. Thanks to Mr. Slavitt, and the medium itself, I do not believe there has ever been a time when average people have had more access to a high-level government administrator.
Speaking of Mr. Diamond, his health care coverage on Politico has gotten enormous and well-deserved attention lately. His daily blog, “Politico Pulse,” is becoming must-read material for anyone looking to keep up with what is happening in the world of health care policy, politics, and business. Each day, Mr. Diamond gives updates on public health (eg, the latest on Zika) and what’s going on in Washington (eg, will Medicare expand or contract in the incoming administration?), and he tracks major movements in the pharmaceutical industry, with recent special attention to mergers and what they mean. Finally, Mr. Diamond’s brief list of “what we’re reading” provides daily links to important medicine, science, and health care policy articles in the mainstream press as well as online.