* David Nash, a physician who is nationally recognized for his work in quality improvement and outcomes measurement, has been named chairman of a new academic department on health policy at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, the school announced.
The establishment of the Office of Health Policy as an academic department within the medical school underscores the growing importance in graduate education of issues such as outcomes measurement and evidence-based training for future doctors, says Thomas Nasca, dean of the medical school and senior vice president of the university.
Nash, 48, an internist who is the first chairman of this new department, is the founding director of the Office of Health Policy and Clinical Outcomes, which was established at Jefferson in 1990 to develop long-term strategies to help prepare providers for the ever-evolving healthcare industry.
"The new department will serve as a focal point for public health, health services and health policy research," Nasca says.
Nash, named one of the 100 most influential people in healthcare in 2003 by Modern Healthcare, has served since 1996 as the first associate dean for health policy at Jefferson Medical College. The school follows several others that have established academic health-policy departments within their medical schools.
* H. Robert Harrison, an Atlanta pediatrician who sued Aetna five years ago, now finds himself on an advisory committee keeping the insurer abreast of problems faced by practicing physicians nationwide.
"I don't know how it's going to play out," Harrison says. "This is a new ballgame."
The nine-member advisory committee, part of Aetna's class-action settlement with physicians and medical societies announced in May 2003, is supposed to "hear the concerns of the medical community and make recommendations about Aetna's business practices," according to an Aetna news release.
Aetna officials say members--all but two of whom are Aetna-contracted physicians--will meet for the first time in the early spring. Around that time, Aetna says, it will set up a Web site for contracted physicians to send concerns to the committee.
Harrison, 58, one of three physicians chosen by plaintiffs in the settlement to serve on the committee, now has a more conciliatory tone. "I hope that we will be forming a relationship with managed care that is good for patients and respects the interest of physicians and of Aetna," he says.