Tuesday, October 09, 2012

When We Mix Politics With Science

Today I opened an e-mail dated 4 October 2012 from the Heart Rhythm Society that announced the 2013 Keynote Speaker at the Heart Rhythm Society's Opening Plenary Session 8 May 2013 in Denver, Colorado : Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton.  Our society's justification for this speaker reads as follows:

"President Clinton remains an influential international figure. His passion for improving lives through innovation and activism positions him as the perfect complement to our program, as we celebrate how our pioneering past is shaping our promising future."

No doubt Mr. Clinton will improve the news coverage of the Heart Rhythm Society's meeting.  Controversy always does. 

But to present a political figure rather than a scientific figure as keynote speaker speaks volumes of how medicine has changed (and continues to change) in America.  Unfortunately, rather than offering a point-counterpoint discussion with Mr. Clinton, heart rhythm specialists who are already reeling from the DOJ's unusual intervention into our field will be treated to Mr. Clinton's views on "innovation" (and no doubt "arithmetic") in health care.

Perhaps the Heart Rhythm Society should offer another retired politician from the opposite side of the political aisle to debate Mr. Clinton and call the Opening Plenary Session in Denver "Debates, Part II."  At least then the audience there could weigh the opposing views on "our promising future" in health care and innovation independently and objectively.



Steve Parker, M.D. said...

Clinton doesn't come cheap. Probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, believe it or not. I wonder who's paying his fee.


rs said...

I have the same frustrations with scientific meetings in my field. Why take a key opportunity to address leaders in the field and turn it over to someone with nothing substantial to offer? Is that what we come to meetings to hear?

At the same time, as long as we get so much money from the federal government (grants and contracts in my case, medicaid and medicare in yours), we can expect the practitioners to be beholden to those who steer the payers.

I wonder what it would take for a an actual patient or patients advocate to command that kind of speaking slot?

Anonymous said...

Why waste money innovating when companies can beef up their lobbying efforts to close the 'donut hole' or for tax breaks? Innovation in cardiology occurs in China or Europe. Innovation in formulating tactics for lawsuits occurs in the USA. Will Mr. Clinton discuss methods to counteract the abuse of the trial lawyers on American medicine?

Have you been injured by Mr. Clinton's policies? Dial 1-800-BAD-DUDE.

Subhash said...

I think this is much ado about nothing. When Bill Frist was in the Senate he spoke to numerous professional organizations. Enjoy the talk; just keep your college-age daughters at home.

Anonymous said...

Some silly-head thought Bill would interest you all because he has cardiac issues (you know, something to chat about as an opener), when in reality it's a group of cardiologists who would be least likely to be interested.

Make sure you bring your camera Wes, I am sure you'll post a giddy, grinning picture of the two of you!


Anonymous said...

I am wondering at the rationale for featuring a former president.

How would his welcome remarks provide an introduction to the topic of the various implantable devices, increasing funding for overseas R&D of anti-arrhythmia agents, stem cell techniques, as well as general social motivation to improve access to artificial cardiac devices, promotion of access to adequate cardiac care, and increase organ donations for workable hearts, genetic testing and counsel, nanotechnology development, etc.

He is a 'special' citizen. What does his viewpoint provide to attendees? Validation of innovative research? His contribution to society as a president predate his heart attack. Did his survival depend on adequate funding for innovative developments, or was his survival dependent on a fast ambulance, or increased use of citizen eduction in CPR?

What story can he bring to your meeting?

What can the audience 'get out of' him? What aspect can he speak to as an introductory speaker? Would his name on the agenda publicize the meeting, or enhance donations to the society, or contribute to society?

Whatever he says, might just be worth 'it' if he came for free.

Anonymous said...

Wes I think your intuition is correct, this is about HRS leadership and their ackward attempts to play politics. We all know how well that has worked for them so far.