As my first week representing VIVA! Communications, Australia as part of the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program at Spectrum in Washington D.C. draws to a close, my head is spinning with all of the health PR-related information I’ve recently gleaned.


This week I’ve participated in several interesting brainstorming sessions focusing on campaign concepts and new business development. Observing the communications process involving Spectrum team members across the U.S., from Washington D.C., and New York to Atlanta, and those working from ‘virtual’ offices at home, has proven a truly fascinating exercise.

I was also granted the opportunity to meet with some of the business leads at Spectrum D.C., including Public Affairs lead, Al Jackson, who explained the pivotal role that communication plays in U.S. health and medicines-related politics. Citing several case studies, Al broke this somewhat complex subject matter down with ease, affording me unique insights into the invaluable role that both he, and the Public Affairs division plays at Spectrum, to ensure fairness of communication for U.S. healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and patients.

The highlight of my week was obtaining a glimpse into U.S. healthcare policy and public affairs. On Tuesday this week, I visited Capitol Hill to observe a U.S. Senate hearing into health policy, focusing on the potential ramifications of introducing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for laboratory-developed tests (LDT’s) of a certain type of in-vitro diagnostic. Currently, no such approval is required.

The hearing armed me with fascinating insights into the American approach toward deliberating the role of administration, and government in diagnosing illnesses and delivering precision medicines to the public. Those in favour of FDA regulation (primarily the Democrats) argued LDTs had not been sufficiently validated, and were therefore at risk of inaccuracy, and that patients are not informed that their tests fail to undergo rigorous FDA approval. Those Senators opposed to drug regulation claimed that such approval would slow the process of diagnosing illnesses and introducing life-saving medications to market. Furthermore, those against (mainly the Republicans) stated the labs (including branches of leading care centres and research hospitals) would go bankrupt if they had to pay for such regulation.

As a former journalist, I also really enjoyed my visit to D.C.s Newseum, which examines the contribution of journalism in shaping American history. As I moved throughout the various exhibits, I was privy to some of America’s most fascinating historical news accounts.

Each day I continue to glean new and invaluable insights into the U.S. health communication marketplace. I can’t wait to see what unfolds today.

Be sure to follow my exchange with GLOBALHealthPR at #GHPRConnects