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Forum brings diverse group together


Pharmaceutical Representative

Novartis became the fifth pharmaceutical company to join the Academic Medicine and Managed Care Forum.

Novartis became the fifth pharmaceutical company to join the Academic Medicine and Managed Care Forum, a unique consortium that exchanges ideas about best practices in the delivery of medicine and funds research in health services.

As part of the Forum, Novartis will participate in working groups that meet semiannually in Washington to discuss challenging health care topics such as patient privacy, faculty development and curriculum, disability management, and national health care policies. The company will also fund grants in health services research at academic medical centers that participate in the Forum.

An unusual partnership

Aetna U.S. Healthcare founded the Forum in 1996 to establish a more constructive working relationship between major academic centers and managed care organizations. The MCO wanted to foster the development of health services principles, such as outcomes management, medical education and the everyday application of managed care theories.

"We felt that if the research was conducted in academic centers, the results of that research would have real credibility and would make a real contribution to the better delivery of quality care," said Dennis Oaks, executive director of the Forum. In order to meet the established goal, the Forum enlisted the participation of more than 45 academic institutions.

Aetna U.S. Healthcare also committed $15 million in grants to the Forum's research fund, $6 million of which was awarded in the first year.

In 1998, Aetna partnered with four pharmaceutical companies that were already devoted to clinical and outcomes research: SmithKline Beecham, Schering-Plough, Merck and Hoechst Marion Roussel.

With their support, the Forum was able to administer 20 awards that totaled $6.8 million in 1998. One funded program researched how patient education affected multi-symptom management of asthma in inner city populations. Another researched the affect of multiple therapeutic interventions on patients with sickle cell anemia. All results of the award-winning research were published in the public domain.

Other pharmaceutical companies may join Novartis and the other four industry member companies, according to Oaks, but 100% industry participation is not the Forum's goal.

"We want the group to be small and manageable so that we can accomplish things," Oaks explained. "This is not designed as a public relations effort. This is designed to produce tangible results." PR

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