By Bill Sacks, Vice President, COI Product Management, HCCS - A HealthStream Company
On August 31st Health Economist Austin Frakt published an article in in the New York Times “TheUpshot” column suggesting “A New Way to Think About Conflicts of Interest in Medicine”. This article expanded on a blog post he had written two months earlier suggesting that while moral responses to conflicts of interest were natural, (for example, decrying the “corruption” of some researchers or the “perversion” of the research process resulting from industry financing of research), these responses were impeding thinking on creative solutions to the problem.
Frakt points out that human beings will often over- or under-correct their perceptions based on real or perceived conflicts of interest. Some patients, upon hearing that their doctor receives funding from a pharmaceutical company will question his or her objectivity regarding that company’s drugs. “To other people,” he notes, “the disclosure of industry ties might be interpreted as signs of honesty and expertise.” Disclosure alone is no panacea.
The author’s main point is that while efforts to identify and manage financial conflicts are laudable, they represent only one part of a much needed larger solution. Frakt believes that only more rigorous oversight of scientific research will restore public confidence, and over time mitigate concerns over conflicts of interest. Frakt argues for several strategies aimed at improving the scientific method of clinical research, regardless of the funding source, to eliminate bias and increase reproducibility. He suggests:
Frakt concludes by saying: “Good science is how we avoid fooling ourselves, even when we have incentive to do so, financial and otherwise. The true merits of a study stem from its design and methods, so long as they are fully and transparently reported — and there are many ways we could do a better job of that.”
So much effort is expended, these days, collecting disclosures of financial interests from providers and comparing them to reported payments made by pharmaceutical and device manufacturers. This article points out that the issues we seek to address are bigger than we often admit to ourselves, and our solutions are only the first step in the effort to reduce and eventually eliminate conflicts of interest.
HealthStream’s learning management system and comprehensive suite of competency management tools empower your healthcare workforce to deliver the best patient care.View All Learning & Performance
When you enact HealthStream's quality compliance solutions, you can do so with the confidence your healthcare organization will meet all standards of care.View All Quality & Compliance
Fulfill compliance requirements with a variety of programs and courseware designed to address critical regulatory requirements as well as educate staff to recognize and mitigate risks.View All Products
HealthStream offers professional training and education on how to best optimize your reimbursement process within your healthcare organization.View All Reimbursement
Learn about our advanced resuscitation training solutions. Our solutions are designed to help improve patient outcomes.View All Resuscitation
Expand the decision-making skills and effectiveness of your healthcare workforce with HealthStream's clinical development programs and services.View All Clinical Development
HealthStream’s learning management system and comprehensive suite of competency management tools empower your healthcare workforce to deliver the best patient care.View All Products
Learn more about HealthStream's provider credentialing, privileging, & enrollment solutions for healthcare organizations.View All Credentialing
Make sure your healthcare staff can schedule out appointments and work schedules with ease using HealthStream's line of software solutions.View All Scheduling