High Stakes

ROI and GR: Yes, the Two Belong in the Same Sentence!


The value of a robust government relations effort has never been more important in the success of a hospital or health system. And that value is clear – at least to those of us who have spent our careers in government relations. But in an era when budgets are tightening at the state and federal level, government relations leaders have a growing responsibility to figure out how to measure ROI for their departments.

Be honest, have you asked yourself lately, “How is my government relations department helping the organization achieve its business goals?” If you haven’t asked yourself this – or shared how you’re doing this with leadership – you’re not alone. In a benchmark report conducted by Jarrard Inc. just over a year ago, only 18 percent of government relations leaders within hospitals and health systems produce any formal ROI measures.

Why do so few provide formal measurement? It’s likely because measuring wins in government relations can seem difficult. Our work can take years. Sometimes the wins are staving off a harmful regulation or cut that never really saw the light of day because we fought it behind the scenes. Other times – even with the most well-developed campaign plan – we lose the issue to politics (not substance), and so on.

Regardless of why you’ve been putting it off, you need to start measuring your efforts and proactively demonstrating your value to your C-suite and your board. Doing so will be the lynchpin to increased department resources for the future.

Measures can vary, depending on your department’s efforts – and what your leadership team values.

Some government relations strategists I work with produce formal written reports that outline factors like reimbursement increases or cuts avoided, volume of legislative interactions, visits to facilities by legislators/regulators and their staff, testimony provided, CON efforts, managed contracts won, and strategic partnerships accomplished.

Others apply financial analysis to each established priority, and include a financial floor the government relations team was responsible for maintaining or securing annually.

Other leaders I know focus on measuring visibility or opportunities for the system, or access to legislators, regulators, staff, business and local leaders when they need it.

The bottom line is this: Goals of the government relations team should align with the organization’s business goals, and the best measures should clearly demonstrate how your government relations team is supporting those business goals.

Today’s GR strategists are often responsible for staying on top of the latest legislative and regulatory issues that matter to your organization and being familiar with and developing plans to help your organization achieve success in growth strategies; clinically integrated networks and ACO development; payment reform; network, state-based exchange plan and demonstration project inclusion; labor efforts, reputation building and so much more. It’s a job for a small army. And the only way to get the resources needed to build that army is to demonstrate the value your government relations team brings to the system.


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