Selling Sickness 2013

conferences, conferences and more conferences

Earlier this week I (KW) was invited to Washington to attend “Using Comparative Effectiveness Research to Improve Health Care” sponsored by Consumer Reports and National Research Center for Women and Families.  It brought together over 30 people from the patient, consumer, research, and public health sectors.  Panelists shared information about the benefits and pitfalls of comparative effectiveness research and patient-centered outcomes research, and how they can be used to improve medical care while preserving essential and proven treatment options.

Coming off the heels of organizing our Selling Sickness 2013 conference, it was a relief to be able to participate and network and not have to worry about the A/V working or running out of coffee.  At this meeting, I met several new people from PCORI and AHRQ. I had a productive conversation with a woman responsible for the AHRQ’s program of free pamphlets including an introduction to comparative effectiveness research and best ways to treat specific diseases. I called to her attention that the depression pamphlet didn’t include anything about serious drug side effects or black box requirements.  She said she would take this information back to her editors.  These sorts of conversations can happen when people from various perspectives come together.

With several conferences coming up such as Pharmed Out, Preventing Overdiagnosis, and NPA’s national meeting, I began thinking about how they all fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  It’s clear that the issues raised at the various conferences are serious and widespread.  Taking a collaborative approach and moving the conversation outside the typical audiences will be essential for meaningful change.  There are many interesting perspectives coming from consumers, patients, researchers, as well as the worlds of bioethics, government, and the law, and even aspects of the drug, device, insurance and advertising industries. It will take more than just the like-minded preaching to each other to fix the current paradigm.

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