Misys Healthcare Systems, a Raleigh, N.C.-based healthcare technology
company, has appointed some high-profile members of the healthcare
information technology community to a new advisory board, raising
questions about whether their position on the board creates a
conflict of interest.
Included on the board are: Janet Marchibroda, chief executive officer
of health IT not-for-profit eHealth Initiative; Blackford Middleton,
chairman and corporate director of clinical-informatics research and
development of the Partners HealthCare System's Center for IT
Leadership and an assistant professor of medicine at 735-bed
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School;
and Theodore Wiegand, executive director of the Hillcrest Management
Services Organization, a for-profit company developed by 148-bed
Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, N.J., to manage hospital-owned and
independent physician practices, physicians' billing services and
develop additional services to be marketed to physicians. Michael
Fleming, former American Academy of Family Physicians president, will
chair the panel.
The advisory board was created to help guide a $10 million Misys
donation of IT products toward community data-sharing efforts under
the Misys Center for Community Health Leadership, created in June.
The issue ahead, however, is whether the board members will be able
to manage potential conflicts of interests that get created by the
intermingling of the general promotion of health IT and the specific
promotion of one IT vendor.
"This advisory board's sole purpose is to provide guidance for the
center and its communities," said Dallas Olson Jr., executive
director for the center. "Our intent is to come up with world-class
thought leadership and act on it."
The board members will receive a stipend to cover costs and
remunerate them for their time, Olson said, without providing more
detail on the fee. He added that participation on the Misys Center
advisory board should not be seen as an endorsement of the company's
products, and this was made clear to members of the panel.
"That came up," Olson said. "That was a big concern of
Marchibroda declined to comment. Wiegand and Middleton were unavailable for
Another board member, Center for Health Transformation Project
Director David Merritt, said he has learned how to avoid conflicts of
interest while serving on a health IT advisory board for the state of
Virginia. That panel is currently reviewing some 60 applications from
organizations seeking a slice of the $1.3 million pie that the state
appropriated to fund pilot health IT projects.
"On the Virginia health IT council, I've personally recused myself
from doing the review of applications," Merritt said, adding that his
Newt Gingrich-led organization also does work with the Misys Center
as well as Allscripts, GE Healthcare and Siemens. "We pride ourselves
on being agnostic.
"We don't want to have the appearance that we're carrying anyone's
water, so we go to great lengths to have that be the case," he added.
"I'm not tethered to a specific health system, or company, or segment
of the market. The variety of stakeholders I've worked with over the
years was something they felt was valuable."
Misys Healthcare Systems is part of Misys, which is headquartered in
London and has seen some corporate turmoil after offering itself for
sale earlier this year and finding no takers. The company took itself
off the market Sept. 29 and, a few days later, Kevin Lomax stepped
down as chief executive and a director of the global software
company, explaining that the move was made "in the best interests of
About two weeks later, former IBM Senior Vice President Mike Lawrie
was named group chief executive with a starting date of Nov. 1 and a
starting salary of $1 million with the opportunity of bonuses of up
to 200% of that amount. Lawrie demonstrated his commitment to the
company by purchasing $1 million of stock with his own money.
Olson insisted that the center, the $10 million of software it's
giving away, and its high-profile advisory board have nothing to do
with taking people's attention away from what's going on across the
"The Misys Center is something separate," he said. "It has literally
nothing to do with any of that."
Fleming, who also sits on an advisory board for the MinuteClinic
chain of healthcare offices located in retail settings, said he
didn't know what impact developments in London have on operations in
Raleigh, but he was told that the center will carry on its mission
regardless of what happens with the parent company.
"All I know is what I read in the Wall Street Journal," Fleming said
of the turmoil in London. "I asked about it and I was assured that
the commitment was there for this project and I have not seen any
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society President and Chief Executive Officer H. Stephen Lieber said the advisory panel
will help the company’s image.
“An all-star lineup can’t hurt,” he said. Misys is “trying to make
sure they’re doing the best thing for their shareholders, and one of
the ways to do this is to have the best people you can to advise
you.”Although some of the same all-star names repeatedly pop up on these
advisory panels, Leiber said this doesn’t necessarily imply that a
limited number of insiders are behind the scenes pulling the health
IT industry’s strings.“There is a finite number of people actively involved, and who will
make themselves available, and are asked,” he said. “But I don’t
think it’s a closed world.”
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