All businesses in the United States, from the mom-and-pop groceries to retail giants like Walmart, have an interest in health care. Whether they are health care providers, innovators, or purchasers, businesses can bring knowledge and a drive for innovation to the health care sphere.
ACEP Now Editorial Advisory Board member Ricardo Martinez, MD, FACEP, chief medical officer and vice president of North Highland and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, recently spoke with Jennifer Pierotti, director of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about how physicians and businesses can work together to create an innovative health care environment and provide the best care for patients. Here are some highlights from their conversation.
Dr. Ricardo Martinez: Tell us about the U.S. Chamber and who it represents.
Jennifer Pierotti: We are the world’s largest business association. We represent the interests of over three million businesses from every size, sector, and region. Our members include everyone from local and state chambers, the mom-and-pop stores on the corner, to industry associations and international corporations. We have a broad array of interests as well as policy issues that we develop.
RM: I attended the Chamber’s Annual Health Care Summit on innovation, and it was terrific to see the breadth of people on the business side and also the entrepreneurial side who are focusing on health care.
JP: Our Annual Health Care Summit is a chance to step away from looking at the political realities and driving policy issues of the day and look at the folks on the frontlines of delivering health care. We can talk about how doctors use telemedicine to access rural areas and new clinical trials happening at places like the Cleveland Clinic—areas we don’t get a chance to look at on an everyday basis.
RM: I think emergency physicians would be surprised at how much the Chamber is involved in health care. Tell us more about where the business community sees itself in the health care landscape.
JP: A lot of businesses in the health care space, like the companies creating cutting-edge pharmaceuticals or hospital systems, are coming up with new delivery models or the latest health care technology. In addition to private-sector innovations, businesses are employers and are on the frontlines of being the providers of health care coverage to their employees. They have been dealing with the challenges of our health care system way before the Affordable Care Act. Finally, employers are uniquely positioned to deal with some of the wellness and chronic disease issues individuals are facing these days because employees spend about two-thirds of their work day at their place of employment.