A private consultant has just released a first-in-kind national survey on the use by hospitals of government relations professionals, indicating a broad range of practices within the hospital industry. The Report, entitled “The Rise of Hospital Government Relations,” summarizes a benchmarking initiative in which the firm of Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock in Nashville, Tennessee, compiled data from hospital and health system government relations leaders about their departments, and reviewed the structure, budget, use of lobbyists, and measurements of success, in the industry.

The firm surveyed 38 health systems across the country, including large, not-for-profit hospitals and health systems, medium to small not-for-profit systems, academic medical centers, freestanding children’s hospitals and for-profit hospital companies. Key findings in the Report include:

  1. Government relations leaders are seasoned professionals, with nearly 90 percent of respondents having worked in the government relations industry for 8 to 15 years and more than 60 percent for more than 15 years;
  2. High-performing healthcare organizations recognize the importance of government relations to the system’s overall strategic goals and position their government relations leaders accordingly, many by having them report directly to the CEO;
  3. Across the board, government relations professionals are placing emphasis on state efforts. When asked how they divide their time between federal, state and local issues, respondents report spending over 50 percent of their time dedicated to state issues; and
  4. Measuring return on investment (ROI) varies widely. When asked whether the department demonstrates ROI, there are no consistent methods. Less than 20 percent of respondents report having a formal measure, and nearly half of respondents report the need to demonstrate “informal” measures of success.

A copy of the Jarrard Report is available here.