March 11, 2013 – Healthcare industry collaborations with physicians and researchers have “been at the heart of most of the advances in U.S. healthcare over the past several decades” and drive “medical innovation, meaningful health outcome improvements, and economic growth for our nation,” according to a consortium of stakeholders working together as the National Dialogue for Healthcare Innovation (NDHI).
As such, in the wake of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act final rule, the NDHI, an initiative of the Healthcare Leadership Council, issued a joint statement at a Capitol Hill briefing today that highlighted four basic principles to guide these essential collaborations “and maintain the confidence and trust of all participants in our healthcare system, including patients, providers, payers, industry, researchers, academia, and government.”
“In the midst of all the concerns about conflict of interest, the Coalition for Healthcare Communication is proud to support this effort to highlight the value of industry partnerships,” said Coalition Executive Director John Kamp. “Policymakers, the press and the public need to better understand that collaboration is the key to innovation and better health for our nation’s citizens.”
Indeed, Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, said that “we never want to discourage these collaborations from taking place, because they are the catalysts for the new medical breakthroughs that protect and strengthen population health. But we need to move forward in a principled, patient-centric way, and these principles underscore the broad commitment to doing good work the right way.”
The NDHI principles are:
- Emphasize physician and researcher autonomy. Healthcare professionals and scientists must be free to assess independently multiple sources of information and treat each patient in a manner consistent with the patient’s needs and best medical practice. This is vital to preserve the public’s trust in the innovation process and in our healthcare system.
- Practice transparency. Patients and all those involved in healthcare should have reasonable access to relevant and meaningful information about how academic institutions, researchers, healthcare professionals, and medical products companies engage in collaborative relationships. Transparency builds trust between patients and the healthcare professionals who serve them.
- Be accountable. All participants across healthcare must be responsible for their actions. External regulation is important here, but internal self-regulation with recurrent training and communication is essential to this effort.
- Ensure the benefit to patients. Collaborations at any level, from the researchlab to the doctor’s office, must aim to benefit patients and put patients’ interests first.
Organizations agreeing to the joint statement – which include AdvaMed, the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Cardiology, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Cleveland Clinic, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, Friends of Cancer Research, the Lahey Clinic, Lilly, Medtronic, PhRMA, and the Society for Women’s Health Research – share a common goal: Promoting the “American innovative spirit so that new advances in medicine and medical technology can continue to make the journey from concept to the practice of medicine for the benefit of patients.”
Grealy added that “most of the lifesaving and life-changing medical innovations of the last several decades have come as a result of innovative biopharmaceutical and technology companies working with knowledgeable physicians and scientists.”