To tell the truth: disclosing the incentives and limits of managed care.
As managed care becomes more prevalent in the United States, concerns have arisen over the business practices of managed care companies. A particular concern is whether patients should be made aware of the financial incentives and treatment limits of their healthcare plan. At present, managed care organizations are not legally required to make such disclosures. However, such disclosures would be advisable for reasons of ethical fidelity, contractual clarity, and practical prudence. Physicians themselves may also have a fiduciary responsibility to discuss incentives and limits with their patients. Once the decision to disclose has been made, the managed care organization must draft a document that explains, clearly and honestly, limits of care in the plan and physician incentives that might restrict the care a patient receives. (+info)
Outcomes research: collaboration among academic researchers, managed care organizations, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Medical and pharmaceutical outcomes research has been of increasing interest in the past 10 to 15 years among healthcare providers, payers, and regulatory agencies. Outcomes research has become a multidisciplinary field involving clinicians, health services researchers, epidemiologists, psychometricians, statisticians, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and ethicists. Collaboration among researchers in different organizations that offer different types of services and various research expertise is the essential element for any successful outcomes project. In this article we discuss collaboration on outcomes research among academic researchers (mainly those who work in colleges of pharmacy), managed care organizations, and research-based pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a focus on the opportunities and challenges facing each party. The pharmaceutical industry needs information to make product and promotion decisions; the managed care industry has data to offer but needs analysis of these data; and pharmacy schools, among other academic institutions, have skilled researchers and data-processing capacity but require projects for revenue, research training, experience, and publications. Challenges do exist with such endeavors, but collaboration could be beneficial in satisfying the needs of the individual parties. (+info)
Technology assessment, coverage decisions, and conflict: the role of guidelines.
As pressure grows for health plans to be accountable for increasing quality of care within a cost-control environment, coverage of new technologies becomes a particularly challenging issue. For a number of reasons, health plans have adopted evidence-based methods for guiding technology decisions. The implementation of these methods has not been free of controversy, and conflicts have arisen between plans and proponents of technologies who often use the political and legal arena in an attempt to secure coverage. Unless these conflicts are resolved, the healthcare system may have difficulty meeting cost and quality objectives. Technology assessment and coverage process guidelines and flexible coverage approaches may be possible ways of resolving these conflicts. (+info)
The ethical dilemma of population-based medical decision making.
Over the past several years, there has been a growing interest in population-based medicine. Some elements in healthcare have used population-based medicine as a technique to decrease healthcare expenditures. However, in their daily practice of medicine, physicians must grapple with the question of whether they incorporate population-based medicine when making decisions for an individual patient. They therefore may encounter an ethical dilemma. Physicians must remember that the physician-patient relationship is of paramount importance and that even well-conducted research may not be applicable to an individual patient. (+info)
Research, ethics and conflicts of interest.
In this paper, I have tried to develop a critique of committee procedures and conflict of interest within research advisory committees and ethical review committees (ERCs). There are specific features of conflict of interest in medical research. Scientists, communities and the subjects of research all have legitimate stakeholdings. The interests of medical scientists are particularly complex, since they are justified by the moral and physical welfare of their research subjects, while the reputations and incomes of scientists depend on the success of their science. Tensions of this kind must at times produce conflict of interest. It is important to recognise that conflicts of interest may unwittingly lead to manipulation of research subjects and their lay representatives on research committees. It is equally important to recognise distinctions between the legal and moral aspects of conflict of interest. Some practical suggestions are made which may go some way towards resolving these difficulties. They indicate what might be needed to ensure the validity of ethical discourse, and to reduce the risks associated with conflict of interest. (+info)
One editor's views on conflict of interest.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of recognizing conflict of interest or bias situations in the peer review and publication process of research papers and to identify some important guidelines or policies that help to minimize these situations. Communication of thoughts, ideas, and information is the basis of how we function as a society. Communicating research results requires us to clearly and accurately communicate all aspects of the research process, including the appropriate interpretation of results. A working definition for conflict of interest or bias with regard to publishing research results is that conflict of interest is a situation in which personal benefit (either direct or indirect) takes priority over the clarity and(or) accuracy of reporting research. These situations are ethical issues and can represent either real or assumed situations. It is true that the review and publication process is not perfect; thus, some bias probably is always present and can be brought to the review and publication process by either the author or those responsible for the process. However, conflict of interest or bias that detracts from the objective evaluation of research or the integrity of a scientific journal is inappropriate. Conflict of interest or bias situations can occur at all levels of the review and publication process and should be dealt with on a factual basis. This article describes several situations as examples and several important guidelines that help minimize the occurrence of conflict of interest or bias. (+info)
Managed care and ethical conflicts: anything new?
Does managed care represent the death knell for the ethical provision of medical care? Much of the current literature suggests as much. In this essay I argue that the types of ethical conflicts brought on by managed care are, in fact, similar to those long faced by physicians and by other professionals. Managed care presents new, but not fundamentally different, factors to be considered in medical decision making. I also suggest ways of better understanding and resolving these conflicts, in part by distinguishing among conflicts of interest, of bias and of obligation. (+info)
Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications.
BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic. METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998. RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories. CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers. (+info)