Conflict of Interest Statement
I have multiple roles in health care and public health – as a surgeon, a public health expert, journalist, and leader of a health systems innovation center. This is by design; I believe that my effectiveness in each role benefits from the lessons and perspective that I gain from others. My voice as a journalist, for example, is different from that of many others; I am what some have described as an internal critic, who speaks from personal experience and observation.
The interplay of these roles also means that legitimate concerns about conflicts of interest are bound to arise. For transparency, therefore, here is a list of organizations that I am part of or provide my income:
1) I am a surgeon and public health researcher for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH – member of Partners HealthCare), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). In my work for these organizations, I follow the HMS, HSPH, and Partners HealthCare conflict-of-interest policies.
2) I am the founder and Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a health systems innovation center that is a joint venture of BWH and HSPH. Ariadne Labs, which works to discover scalable solutions proven to improve the delivery of health care, gets its revenue from multiple philanthropies, foundations, and health care industry partnerships, which are listed on our website.
3) I serve as co-founder and chairman of the board of Lifebox, a nonprofit that makes surgery and anaesthesia safer on a global scale. I am a board member of the New America Foundation, the Rx Foundation (a philanthropy), and the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care. I do not receive compensation for these roles.
4) My academic income comes from my medical practice, endowment, and research grants from the US government and NGOs. I also receive income as a staff writer for the New Yorker and author of books published by Metropolitan/Henry Holt in the United States and other publishers around the world. I receive fees for lecturing and public appearances from many different kinds of organizations.
I am clearly deeply embedded in health care and public health, in projects large and small. It is my life’s work and forms the basis for my writing and observations. In an effort to insure that medical companies do not pay to influence my research or writing, I take several steps: (1) No one, other than the publications where my work appears, pays me to write. (2) I don’t do paid consulting or advising for industry. (3) I don’t benefit financially from speaking to for-profit medical businesses, whether they are drug companies, device companies, or insurance companies. I do sometimes choose to speak before such audiences for the purposes of instruction and impact, but when I do I arrange for any fee to be donated to charity. (4) While my research center’s health care studies may partner with and be funded by for-profit health systems, insurance companies, or other medical companies, I personally receive no income from such entities.
But I hope the most salient point is not missed, which is that I am an insider, a surgeon and researcher with deep commitments to health care, as my readers will recognize. I’d like to think I am as fair as I can be in my opinions and analyses. But I rely on you, the readers of my work, to be the final judge.
Updated March 5, 2018