In a roll out of their conflict of interest policy, Partners Health Care (several hospitals serving Harvard University) recently announced “changes pertaining to industry support for medical education throughout the Partners organization.” They specifically noted that some of these changes became effective on January 1, and others become effective on May 1, 2010.
Part of the changes included a newly created “Education Review Board (ERB) responsible for approval and oversight of all industry gifts supporting educational programs and activities in Partners hospitals.” The board consists of members from the clinical, scientific, education, and patient advocacy communities and, to our knowledge, it is the only one of its kind in the nation. A list of the ERB members is on their website.
Regulations that became effective January 1, 2010, included a review by the ERB of “specific industry-supported proposals which until now have been carried out by a subcommittee of the Partners Education Committee (PEC).” Partners noted that the “will continue its valuable role of review and approval of Graduate Medical Education programs sponsored by Partners hospitals.”
Pat of the changes included reviewing all agreements for industry support of educational programs and activities through the Office for Interactions with Industry, rather than hospital development offices.
Regulations that become effective May 1, 2010, include using the ERB to ensure that all industry support of educational programs meets these Commission-recommended requirements:
– funding for a specific program or activity must come from more than one company;
– any continuing medical education program that involves conferences or lectures, or other forms of presentations, must meet Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education or comparable standards (as determined by the ERB), whether for CME credit or not;
– a more rigorous process to screen potential conflicts of interest and monitor content of programs will be applied.
Partners noted that these new policies represent a “cultural change” that will take “time, thoughtfulness, and a sustained commitment from the entire Partners community.” The Partners Office for Interactions with Industry, which administers these policies, has developed FAQ’s on the website.