Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The American College of Cardiology Gets a New CEO

Since when does a pharmaceutical executive become CEO of the American College of Cardiology (ACC)?

Since now.

Call me crazy, but does this strike anyone else as strange?  Are physicians now officially incapable of leading the ACC or any other major professional doctor organization?  Have we not learned anything about the appearance of co-mingling pharmaceutical or medical device company executives with doctors? 

Oh, wait...

Maybe this is happening thanks to our grand health care reform efforts underway.  Maybe cardiology future battles will not be fought at the bedside, but rather in the boardroom or the halls of Congress.  When government calls the shots, lobbying is king, not 60-minute door-to-balloon times.

Need more Regulations?  Check.  Need some Appropriateness Criteria?  Check.  Guidelines?  Check.  Steering committees?  Check.  Ways to keep industry at scientific sessions?  Check.  Need an industry thoughtleader to write white papers on physician payment reform?  Check.

What was I thinking?  After all, pharmaceutical executives have "unique skills" and are accustomed to back-room deal-making, facing regulatory hurdles, basking in paperwork, and getting great benefits for themselves!  They know how to schmooze and mollycoddle the political class much better than doctors do, so why not turn to them for advise?  I get the plan - it's brilliant!  Who needs clinical cardiologists for leadership positions in their professional societies?

Seriously, what could possibly go wrong?



Larry Husten said...

Wes-- the first half of this post is brilliant and succinct and raises a very important question. But you lose me in the second half. I just don't see what health care reform has to do with this issue, and I think by veering off in that direction you lose track of the big immediate issue of the ACC and its new industry-minted CEO.

DrWes said...

Larry -

Cardiologists (in particular) used to have vibrant, entrepreneurial, independent practices that were widely distributed across America. Those practices provided imaging services for cardiovascular patients at far lower costs than large hospital systems. They were nimble, innovative, and proactice for patients because patients mattered - they were doctors' clients.

Now, thanks to to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, they have been herded under a large ACO construct that favors the industry over healthcare over patients. Others (like you I would suspect), think this has been for the common good, but we should ask ourselves who, exactly, has benefited from this approach. Has it been the doctors and patients who see less of each other now? Or is it the EMR companies who benefit from constant updates that add typing skills to a doctor's medical repertoire and haven't saved any costs?

Doctors today are seeing our practices turn into regulatory exercises in futility. We must follow rubrics and mandates without end that benefit everyone except the patient. We have "leaders" in bed with industry telling us how we should be paid.

These things are all related, Larry, and hard-working doctors are feeling this and living it every day. To now make a pharmaceutical rep the head of the ACC (irrespective of his "skills") just reinforces how far down this rabbit hole of conflicts of interest we've traveled in all aspects of medicine, including health care reform.

Anonymous said...

Who elected/appointed the guy? I suspect it wasn't Congress or Obama. I suspect it was doctors. If that is the case, it turns out that doctors are as careless in voting as the rest of the electorate. In my case, I'm thinking of the Red State idiots. I guess you'll bethinking of the Blue States. At any rate, the fault dear Brutus is in ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is an idiot. Associations are nearly all Washington-based and their staffs are far left liberals. The quote shows that he fashions your himself as smarter than those from the red states. He can get a government job with the current administration and then, can tell the rest of the world how to live their lives. Yes, everyone who has ever worked for a pharmaceutical company is evil.

Roy M. Poses MD said...

I agree with your and Marilyn Mann's concerns about this man's suitability to be president of the ACC. (See: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2013/05/blogscan-ex-pharmaceutical-company-ceo.html)

I also fail to see what his appointment has to do with the ACA. The entanglement of physicians with industry has been going on for a very long time (see: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2007/12/relman-in-jama-on-threats-to-physicians.html).

Transforming medicine from a profession and a calling into a business, and letting business people with no medical training run medical organizations (see: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/search/label/generic%20managers), all occurring in an era of deregulation and during which business schools, most notably the University of Chicago, suggested the only priority of business leaders ought to be short term revenue (see: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/search/label/financialization ) seems more the work of market fundamentalists than President Obama's health care reformers.