Riskiness of Pharma Ads in EHR

Posted on November 23, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been having a number of really interesting conversations with people about Pharma ads appearing in EHR and other clinical software. Most people’s gut reaction is that they don’t want their doctor seeing a pharma ad while he’s ePrescribing. However, most people also agree that there’s too much Pharma money for it not to happen.

In an article at Lab Soft News a few months back, they discuss the challenge and issues surrounding Pharma ads in an EHR:

Very distressing to me, however, is the clear link of the company, and its software, to the pharmaceutical industry. I have blogged on numerous occasions about some of the ethical and legal lapses of some of these companies (see, for example: On the Corrosive Influence of Big Pharma on Academic PhysiciansMerck Creates Phony Peer-Reviewed Medical Journal to Dupe PhysiciansDetails Emerge About Ghost-Written Medical Articles for Wyeth). I have also reluctantly come to the conclusion that even apparently trivial advertising connections to Big Pharma can lead to mischief. I had previously thought that inconspicuous advertisements in EMRs by drug companies might be tolerated if the companies were to bear the costs of these systems. I now believe that allowing these companies even a tangential relationship to physician-office electronic medical records is too risky.

Certainly there are some really great points made. Absolutely there’s a risk that a doctor could be influenced by a pharma ad in an EHR. Will it make them provide a lower quality care because of the ad? I’m not sure it would. Could the care cost more because of the pharma ad? Possibly so. Do we not trust our doctors to do what’s best for us regardless of the other outside influences?

Back to the initial premise, many are concerned with Pharma ads, but they’re bound to happen anyway. So, I ask you the question, is there any way to have Pharma ads without compromising the integrity of the visit? Is there a way to minimize the influence of Pharma while still allowing them a way to talk with the doctor?

No doubt this discussion is going to come up again and again. With Pharma unable to even give a doctor a pen we’re going to see new creative ways for Pharma to be seen by doctors. Advertising Pharma products to patients won’t be enough.