Early this fall, I wrote a blog posting on the growing role of e-advocacy. Notably covered was the growing use of social media not only by members of Congress (virtually all members are using Twitter, YouTube and/or Facebook) as a means to keep in touch with their constituencies, but increasingly health advocates of various stripes are also using it to direct grassroots efforts and maintain relations with policy makers.
However, last week an event – or non-event – occurred that probably serve to underscore the need for advocates (grassroots or otherwise). The outcome of that committees deliberations put all stakeholders on notice. First, the importance of having in place no the tools for e-advocacy takes on new urgency: Second, those tools must be highly developed – you can’t build them when you need them: Third, you have to do more than check of the box, you need to have in place a strategy behind their use.
When the so-called “Super-Committee” in Congress failed to reach an agreement on an approach to cutting the federal budget, as everyone knows there is provision in the law to mandate cuts of $1.2 trillion. A big chunk of that has been well publicized as occurring in the military, but a large portion of the domestic spending will involve healthcare.
Healthcare advocacy is often involved in issues associated with the rights of their affected constituencies, but is also heavily invested in advocating for more money for research and support. In normal funding cycles, the advocacy effort has to be strong and well-organized. But with the failure of the members of the Congressional “Super-Committee” to reach a plan, the environment for advocacy in general, and for healthcare advocacy in particular, will likely go into overdrive.
In today’s rapidly changing communications world, much of that overdrive effort in advocacy will be through e-advocacy. Expressing opinion through blog platforms that have respectable followings that can, in turn, carry that message via twitter and mobilize large grassroots efforts aimed at achieving policy goals.
Certainly in this new and rapidly developing environment, those who have built their e-advocacy capacity and developed it will bring more immediacy and relevance to their efforts than those who have not. The FDA, its allies, healthcare providers, researchers, – all sectors of healthcare have to assess their capacity today and assess where it needs to be. And that is true not only of healthcare stakeholders individually as well as the industry sector, which will have to compete in this new environment with other sectors for a rapidly shrinking pool of resources.