As we prepare for the 2013 Health Policy Orientation, we've invited previous attendees to share their experiences and perspectives on the quality and value of the meeting. Below is a review by Carl Patten, Director, Florida Blue Center for Health Policy. I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Health Policy Orientation.  I was so impressed by the program that I felt compelled to share my thoughts about its content and value.  The curriculum, the quality of the presenters and the fellow attendees were fantastic.  This program definitely contributed to enhancing the quality of my work, and I believe the Health Policy Orientation was a wise investment of my time that continues to produce dividends. The design of the curriculum was excellent.  First, the program provided great context by laying out a cogent history of pertinent health policy events and decisions through the lenses of the three branches of the federal government.  This was a keen way of explaining the roles and interconnectedness of policy makers throughout government while providing important historical markers essential to cogent analysis of current policy issues and those in the future.  Second, the curriculum drilled down into crucial topics.  These topics included federal budgeting, legislative and regulatory processes and major public programs.  Third, it provided insight and examples as to how ideas evolve into impactful policy.  Finally, guidance was provided about how to communicate with key stakeholders with the goal of impacting public policy.  I believe this was one of the most valuable parts of the curriculum.  Accumulating and processing information typically comes very easily to health researchers and health policy professionals.  Typically, the more challenging part is communicating that knowledge in an impactful way. The presenters were of the highest quality and from a broad variety of perspectives.  Almost all of the presenters and panel participants were nationally recognized policy leaders. In fact, many of the presenters have been commonly cited on numerous aspects regarding the implementation of health care reform over the last three years.  These speakers represented governmental agencies, congressional offices, think tanks, consulting firms and academia.  Just as importantly, the speakers represented the full range of the political spectrum.  This diversity of professional and political perspectives greatly enhanced the value of the program.  Regardless of their affiliations and perspectives, the presenters shared relevant knowledge and insight in an objective and salient manner. The Health Policy Orientation offered an excellent opportunity for networking.  Almost all of the presenters were gracious enough to spend time answering questions with presenters after the sessions.  Furthermore, the roster of attendees was even more professionally diverse than the list of presenters, and they were accomplished in their own right.  The attendees included everyone from graduate students to government officials to corporate professionals. The program provided ample time to interact with the other attendees. In some cases, for me, these interactions evolved into relationships beyond the program that have enhanced my professional pursuits. The context and content provided by the Health Policy Orientation program has had a positive impact on my career.  As director of the Florida Blue Center for Health Policy, I have been able to apply the lessons from the program to demonstrate leadership in the health policy arena within and beyond my organization.  Earlier this year the Florida Blue Center for Health Policy released In the Pursuit of Health: Blueprint for a Healthier Florida 2013. This document lays out Florida Blue’s public policy platform and is a comprehensive, high-level plan to transform the health care system.  These and other documents that describe the position of Florida Blue on several policy issues are available at  The knowledge and insight I gained from the Health Policy Orientation was crucial to my ability to lead the Florida Blue Center for health policy in producing documents that Florida Blue has used to announce its direction and philosophy regarding health policy and a vision for transforming the health care system. I recommend the Health Policy Orientation without reservation.  It provides excellent content, and it frames it in a way that is contextual and relevant.  Just as importantly, the program provides an excellent opportunity to network with others in the health policy field and to enhance one’s skills as a health policy professional. Carl Patten, JD, MPH Director Florida Blue Center for Health Policy twitter: @carlwpattenjr

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