A guest post from Dr. Mike Porter, APR, sponsored by the University of St. Thomas.

Imagine you work for a firm in the health care space. Perhaps you already do, so that may make it easier. Now, what does your firm do? Does it manufacture medical devices or drugs? Does it provide a healthcare service? Or, perhaps it pays for all the above? Regardless of the healthcare product or service, changes at the governmental level will impact every communication. There are dozens of regulations across healthcare about what you can, can’t or must say. On top of that, each product or service has specific restrictions and mandates.

The “good” news for those who work in health care communication is that changes to these rules tend to be slow and telegraphed. This allows time to prepare and adjust. However, in the face of potentially dramatic changes to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), communicators working in healthcare could find things suddenly changed.

I am not in any position to speculate on what the changes might be broadly or specifically to any business. I do, however, appreciate that for our colleagues working in healthcare the not knowing what’s next is only part of the problem. The other challenge is the need to respond to widely-varied audiences about how any potential changes will impact individuals and organizations. While this is not a new situation, in this instance the nuances become magnified.

As professional communicators in corporate and non-profit organizations, the majority of us need to remain politically neutral. However, within this volatile time and space, it will be difficult not to have some communication perceived as partisan – regardless of whether it was meant to be positioned that way or not

In the changing political climate, speculation would not be valuable here. And, for some of us, we can only imagine what changes may be in store. But, maybe an expression of sympathy is in order for our colleagues in healthcare who will have to tap dance through the coming months.

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