News, Updates, and Happenings At Our Firm 

Welcome to this new format for our newsletter!  With well over half of our readers now using a mobile device to gain access to this content, we felt it was time to switch to a mobile-optimized format for easier reading.  We also recently refreshed our website to better describe how we work, what we do, and the value that we provide, so please take a look when you have a moment.

This has been a busy time here, as the New Year has ushered in a number of potentially sweeping public policy changes, including the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which will greatly affect many of the organizations with whom we work.  I've never heard of perfect legislation and the ACA is far from perfect, but it has resulted in many millions of people getting coverage, which is why many people inside health care believe it should be fixed or strengthened, not repealed.  We are helping our clients strategize on the response to the repeal effort and to message and communicate their positions to key stakeholders.

As the Trump Administration settles in we anticipate many more policy changes that may significantly impact our clients, in areas such as energy, technology, education, and infrastructure, and we look forward to the challenge of understanding and communicating these initiatives, and creating new opportunities for our clients as a result of them.


David Ball

View our profile on LinkedIn
The transition to a new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system is a challenge for any organization.  Beyond the initial expense of adopting a new system, there is the organizational challenge of training thousands of busy employees, transferring hundreds of thousands of charts from a legacy system to the new EMR, purchasing or retooling hardware, printers, and point-of-service devices, and dealing with a minefield of seemingly hundreds of deadlines where missing one could create a cascade that makes the entire project late.

On top of all of these concerns, revenue cycle disruption is a reality in any transition as coding and billing issues are identified and ultimately resolved, and reduced provider workloads to accommodate a steep learning curve can create patient backlogs and more lost revenue.  The upside, of course, is tremendous, including greater efficiency resulting from improved workflows and the potential to utilize the new array of data to improve population health.

We believe the key to a smooth implementation of the new system is the development and execution of a communications plan that can guide the transition.  A plan will identify major communications deadlines as well as assess existing communications vehicles, and will outline new tools and tactics for reaching the myriad audiences involved in this transition, including staff from across the organization and patients and their families.

During the transition planning process, communications staff or consultants need a seat at the table of every meeting, so that decisions regarding the project can be converted into actionable communications tasks that can then be rolled out across the organization.  Any communications roadblocks that could delay the EMR go-live can also be raised at the table and ultimately resolved.  Project management teams tend to be so focused on technical details that they can easily lose sight of the communications challenges.

We have successfully worked with different kinds of health care organizations undergoing this transition, from academic medical centers with many types of staff (e.g., nurses, attending physicians, residents, fellows, and clinic staff) and settings (e.g., inpatient, emergency department and outpatient) to physician organizations with disparate member practices across a broad geography. 

Click here to read a case study of our experience assisting with one such launch.


Marquis Health Services allayed the concerns of many residents of Boston's North End when it announced it was purchasing the only nursing home in the neighborhood, which was at risk of closure.  Marquis also recently acquired 
Elmhurst Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Providence, RI  and Cedar View Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Methuen, Mass.

Boston-based  Centering Healthcare Institute  has created, nurtured and grown a group care model of prenatal care that is leading to better outcomes at delivery.  The Centering model involves providing group prenatal care for women that are due at roughly the same time.  By creating a cohort, the expectant moms have a built-in support network, while learning together about labor, delivery, and newborn care.  A recent study in South Carolina has shown that the Centering approach lowers Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admissions  and  lowers costs. 

In an age of accountable care for healthcare providers, the focus is on outcomes.  As hospitals work to lower the rate of readmission, they must focus not only on the care provided under their roof, but the care a patient gets at home or at a rehab center -- because the care in other settings drives readmission.  
Read PointRight CEO Steven Scott's perspective  on the topic published in Becker's Hospital Review.

  As community pharmacists serving the western suburbs of Boston through their three pharmacies, Dinno Health co-owners Ray and Saad Dinno are often asked by patients, particularly parents of small children, how to safely store and dispose of medications. They decided to share their knowledge in this column they co-authored for baystateparent magazine

The Trump Administration has announced its intention to block grant Medicaid, the federal-state program for the elderly, poor, and disabled that has played a main role in expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  By block granting Medicaid, the federal government would give states complete flexibility in administering the program while limiting the amount it would reimburse states.  The concept of a block grant is nothing new, but even still, it is a tremendously complex move with deep implications for states, the people covered by Medicaid, and those who provide care.   Read a "First Opinion" piece on the subject by Healthcare Financial CEO Jerry Vitti that ran on STAT News.

Empower Pharmacy in Houston has built a new drug compounding outsourcing facility that is designed to exceed the most rigorous standards in the profession.  Outsourcing facilities are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and they provide sterile compounded medications for administration by hospitals and physicians, as well as directly by patients.  We were honored to help Empower Pharmacy open the new facility, which was covered in the 
Houston Chronicle . CEO Shaun Noorian wrote  this piece for STAT News  about the effort that went into designing this facility from the ground up. 

Ball Consulting Group's Media Training Module has been updated and expanded to include the rapidly expanding use of social media in government communications and the evolving role of social media as a news source. Please email us if you would like to learn more about our half-day media training sessions.

Ball Consulting Group Vice President Greg Turner making a point at a December media training session.