Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Burying Conflicts of Interest

The good folks at Health Care Renewal have a great post, from which I will quote. The topic is pay for performance initiatives for physicians. The discussion is regarding a journal article on the topic. Quote begins here...

"Take in particular the article written by one John W Rowe MD, which was derived from the Harvey Kimball lecture Dr Rowe gave to the 2005 American Board of Internal Medicine Summer Conference. [Rowe JW. Pay-for-performance and accountability: related thems in improving health care. Ann Intern Med 2006; 145: 695-699.]

So who is Dr Rowe, and why should we heed his call for pay-for-performance, even though even he admits that current approaches have major deficiencies?

The Annals identifies Dr Rowe as being "from Columbia University, New York, New York." His address is listed as the Mailman School of Public Health there. Thus, his current position seems to be on the faculty of a well-known school of public health. Dr Rowe did mention that he has "exprience as the leader of a large academic health science center and as chief executive officer of a major health insurer." The Annals lists his "potential financial conflicts of interest" as "employment: Aetna Inc." and "stock ownership or options (other than mutual funds): Aetna Inc." Thus, he is also a part-time employee of Aetna Inc., a large health insurer and commerical managed care organization, perhaps a part-time medical director, or analyst, who holds a few shares of stock in a retirement plan? Worldly physicians, but not all Annals readers, may realize, instead, that Dr Rowe is not just a part-time mid-level employee, but is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Aetna Inc.

However, the statement also reveals he still has a very important position with Aetna. He was has been Chairman of the Board since April 1, 2001, and still holds that position, although he plans to retire at the end of this year. In 2006, his salary was $1.1 million, his bonus was $2 million,… [and on it goes…]

You must read the full post here...

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