Editorial

Aetna National Medical Director for Oncology Solutions

I had the recent privilege of carrying the “flags” of our school and of American Health & Drug Benefits to the enchanting island of Japan as a plenary speaker at the 113th Annual Congress of the Japanese Surgical Society. I would like to share some of my reflections on this incredibly complicated, and sometimes even paradoxical, medical culture during my 1-week whirlwind visit.

Regular readers of American Health & Drug Benefits know that I like to peruse the literature from consulting companies and industry-related think tanks. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)—Operating Performance in the Medtech Industry: Trends and Imperatives1—really caught my eye.

I have been fascinated by new technology ever since our parents took my younger brother and me to the amazing 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY. We especially loved the “Theatre of Tomorrow” exhibit sponsored by General Electric. I can still see the futuristic family room rotating in front of my eyes. Perhaps that is why I am always drawn to the Technology Quarterly section in the British news magazine, The Economist. It provides a broad overview of technology trends across many different industries.

According to Michael Kleinrock, Director of Research Development at the IMS Institute, breakthrough therapies, innovation in disease treatments, and changes in the consumption of medicines transformed the US healthcare market in 2011.1 At the core of this interesting report are 5 takeaway messages1:

Virtually every American hospital has a Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) committee that works hard to create and maintain the hospital formulary and track the quality and safety of medication therapy. At Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH), the P&T committee is a critically important medical staff committee with multiple subcommittees.

Well, they certainly surprised me.

For the political junkies among us, the acronym SCOTUS (otherwise known as the Supreme Court of the United States) has practically become a household word. By now, oceans of ink have been devoted to media coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 3 days of unprecedented legal hearings and speculation about the potential outcome to be announced sometime in June. My colleagues in health policy circles have been making friendly wagers, not just about what the ultimate decision will be, but how the actual vote count will fall.

It is with a great deal of pride and humility that I have accepted this new role as the Editor-in-Chief of American Health & Drug Benefits (AHDB). Let me outline what I hope to accomplish in the coming months and years and solicit your input and support. First, some background about my professional journey. I have been at Thomas Jefferson University for the past 22 years. During that tenure, I have had essentially 3 jobs. I came on board in 1990 in a staff role to the hospital CEO, directing the Office of Health Policy.

In June 2008, my wife and I moved to downtown Asheville, NC, with our dog, Max. Max and I were out for a walk early every morning and late every evening. When I first started taking Max for walks, I would occasionally notice people who appeared homeless, and I became curious about the causes of homelessness and its solutions.

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