Posts Tagged ‘transparency in medicine’

Pissed off patients aren’t the only ones who rate doctors — happy ones do, too.

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Economist Gerald Epstein found that economists who have been advising government have had financial ties to the entities about which they had been giving advice.  Sounds a bit seedy. He found that one prominent economist had written a supportive paper about Iceland’s economy — funded by the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce — shortly before that economy tanked (the economist responded at this site.

Epstein didn’t claim there were abuses; he just pointed out that it would be good to have some ethical guidelines in place, particularly disclosure of financial ties and more transparency, just as we are seeing in medicine today.  Here, here!  Transparency is good for all concerned, something we strongly believe in at DrScore.com.

One of the best points Epstein made is that he didn’t believe that economists should cut off ties with industry.  Those ties could be important, just as in medicine it is valuable for drug companies, government agencies, academic centers and doctors to work together to develop and disseminate new treatments (something discussed on Getting Better Health Care a few months ago).  But ties should be transparent, so that patients can made informed decisions.

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In a big move toward transparency in medicine, ProPublica unveiled a publicly accessible database that shows how much money several large drug companies paid physicians for speaking, consulting or research.  My son looked me up and saw that I had received over $3,000 from one of the companies (other companies have paid me considerably more as I have been paid to give lectures to doctors and consult with companies about the treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions).

I have the sense that some people think there’s a conflict of interest when doctors take money from drug companies, even if it is for lecturing or other activities.  I don’t doubt that there is potential for conflict and perception of conflict, but there’s also a lot of good that comes from doctors educating other doctors about new treatments for patients, giving companies advice on patients’ needs and helping drug companies develop new treatments.

Because these activities are good, there’s no need to hide them. I welcome transparency.  Just like online doctor ratings are good for the public to see, making these payments more transparent should help alleviate patients’ concerns.

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