Health care reform must avoid conflicts-of-interest

September 27, 2015

Hartzband and Groopman suggest the concept of shared decision-making be applied to the deliberative process. All national guidelines should acknowledge dissenting opinions of experts and should indicate the specific population studied. This information is essential to enable physicians to judge how guidelines should apply to individual patients.

They also caution against the potential for guidelines to be influenced by financial support from pharmaceutical or devices companies as is allowed under current practice.

“In order to assure the public that there is no potential for a conflict-of-interest that would taint the guidelines, an independent government body should be established to develop guidelines without industry support – analogous to the role of the Food and Drug Administration as an unbiased party of the approval of treatments.”

Hartzband is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Groopman is the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is Chief of Experimental Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.