Several members of the new 15-member Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research met in Chicago on May 13 to ensure that all of the suggestions on how to spend $1 billion do not come only from Washington.
The listening session was led by attorney Neera Tanden, who currently serves as counselor for health reform at HHS. Tanden said the session was intended to get outside the beltway to hear other opinions on how to spend the $1.1 billion allocated for comparative effectiveness research in the American Recovery and Investment Act. To that end, the session was successful, as the panel heard from more than 20 speakers.
Scott Wallace, former CEO of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, warned against additional segmentation of care and stifling innovation under blankets of bureaucracy. The focus of comparative-effectiveness research should be on outcomes, and not on micromanaging processes, Wallace said. As he explained, improvements in treating pediatric cancer and cystic fibrosis came not from specific procedures or medications, but rather from using team approaches and testing full-treatment protocols. Last year, Wallace was appointed as a fellow at the University of Virginia, but he said his comments at the session were not made on behalf of the university.
Noting that more care can sometimes be worse care, James Webster, a professor of medicine at Northwestern Universitys Feinberg School of Medicine, and the immediate past president of the Chicago Board of Health, spoke about the importance of clinical effectiveness research. As the saying goes, In God we trust, all others should bring data, Webster said.
Translating scientific research into the implementation of best medical practices is vital to the nations economy, Webster explained. In my opinion, this is not an effort to do rationing, when healthcare is currently rationed on the basis of insurance coverage and ability to pay, he said. We cannot ignore the fact that we are in danger of bankrupting both the healthcare system and the country.