At a time when American policymakers are looking closely at healthcare costs and questioning the future of Affordable Care, their checkbooks remain wide open to new health/tech ideas that reduce cost, improve institutional efficiency and improve patient care. There is no schizophrenic decision-making – wild swings between saving and sending. Simply, US health decision-makers are shifting from a “what something costs” to a “value-based” return-on-investment mindset. In this evolving US environment, Israeli health/tech companies will thrive if they take sufficient time to examine what the market needs and communicate effectively.

The election of Donald Trump as US president does not automatically signal a hands-off government policy on health industry pricing. In fact, the Republican party has held Congress for the past eight years and most Senate inquires on drug pricing occurred under its watch. Behind the attacks on pricing outliers, such as Valent, Turing and Mylan that have been called out for price hikes that exceed what is acceptable, are two deeply rooted questions: (1) What is the basis for their pricing in the first place and, (2) Is the cost worth the result?

Israel is the ideal development and testing setting for solutions that can fix several US healthcare-system ills. The Start-Up Nation is a powerhouse in creating patient access-to-care and close-looped health systems. In contrast, the average American relationship with a health insurance plan is three to five years. As Americans change health plans frequently, they switch primary-care physicians as often. As soon as they switch plans and doctors, they must either transport personally their medical records or recreate their own health history. This is inefficient.

Electronic health records (EHRs), long part of the Israeli health system, are just coming online in the States. Less than 10% of US hospitals used EHRs in 2008. Less than 10 years later, almost 98% are using some form of basic EHR system within their institutions. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or the HIPAA inhibits physicians from sending along a patient’s record to their new physician without signed patient consent.

Sharing patient health history across doctors’ office and institutions is a maze and protecting patient medical record security is a black hole. Many hospitals do not see IT patient information management as part of their core medical mission. Rather, they look at it as a mandate forced upon them by the US Federal government. Often, they put in place EHR systems without corresponding security systems to guard against hacker vulnerabilities.

Americans also face many illnesses where behavioral health impacts clinical conditions. Diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses are often aggravated by poor diet and lack of exercise. Israel has long recognized that home health aides are far more cost-effective in delivering care to patients than hospitals. Yet, Americans depend on long-term care facilities and in-patient care to have health needs addressed. With good economic and system models, preventive care and home assistance are go-to solutions for an aging America.

Beyond communicating with patients around their care, America is also facing a lack of skilled health professionals in community hospital systems. Lack of staff on the hospital floor can translate into increased risk for patients. Short-staffed nursing teams often are monitoring patients from central floor stations. Fewer professionals, multiple duties and requirements can translate into patient tragedies. Again, Israeli technology is available to tackle these life-sustaining issues.

To convey how their innovations can positively influence health in the US, Israeli entrepreneurs are starting to look more toward public relations to convey company value. Those efforts should include a mix of consumer and trade media coverage, sector awards that offer opportunity to differentiate, speaking platforms that enable company innovators to stand side-by-side with medical leaders and policy forums where the health problems the company addresses can be explored are all pieces of the reputation-building puzzle.

There is no “one” solution or fix where PR can place a company into the spotlight overnight. Good company and consultancy teams work together to make sure the objective of connecting public need for product innovation is clear and that thought-leaders who can advocate for a solution are part of the story. The value of PR remains constant – non-paid media reaffirming innovation value. Israeli companies are producing ground-breaking innovations that can improve the human condition. Now they need to be equally innovative in how they use public relations and policy to reach the audiences who help close the sale or deploy investment dollars.

In collaboration with Gil Bashe, managing partner of Finn Partners, a public relations and policy firm with 14 offices around the globe.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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