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The Privileged Choices (Jan-08)

What's the difference between opting in and opting out of an activity? Who decides if people will be put automatically into one category or another? Click this interactive decision to learn how default options work.

Scenario 1

Imagine that you're a US Senator and that you serve on the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has come before your committee because they believe that too many health care workers are getting sick with influenza ("flu") each year and infecting others. As a result, your Senate committee is now considering a new bill that would require that all health care workers get annual influenza vaccinations ("flu shots") unless the worker specifically refuses this vaccination in writing.

Do you think you would support this bill for mandatory flu shots for health care workers?

  • Yes
  • No

Scenario 2

Imagine that you're the human resources director at a mid-sized company that's initiating an employee retirement plan. Management is concerned that many employees are not saving enough for retirement. They're considering a policy that would automatically deduct retirement contributions from all employees' wages unless the employee fills out and submits a form requesting exemption from the automatic deductions.

Do you think a policy of automatic retirement deductions is reasonable for your company to follow?

  • Yes 
  • No

Scenario 3

Organ transplants save many lives each year, but there are always too many deserving patients and too few organs available. To try to improve the number of organs available for donation, the state legislature in your state is considering a new policy that all people who die under certain well-defined circumstances will have their organs donated to others. The system would start in three years, after an information campaign. People who do not want to have their organs donated would be given the opportunity to sign a refusal of organ donation when they renewed their drivers' licenses or state ID cards, which expire every three years. Citizens without either of these cards could also sign the refusal at any drivers' license office in the state. This is a policy similar to ones already in place in some European countries.

Does this seem like an appropriate policy to you?

  • Yes 
  • No

How do your answers compare?

For many decisions in life, people encounter default options-that is, events or conditions that will be set in place if they don't actively choose an alternative. Some default options have clear benefits and are relatively straightforward to implement, such as having drug prescriptions default to "generic" unless the physician checks the "brand necessary" box. Others are more controversial, such as the automatic organ donation issue that you made a decision about.

Default options can strongly influence human behavior. For example, employees are much more likely to participate in a retirement plan if they're automatically enrolled (and must ask to be removed, or opt out) than if they must actively opt in to the plan. Researchers have found a number of reasons for this influence of default options, including people's aversion to change.

But default options can seem coercive also. So, an Institute of Medicine committee recently recommended against making organ donation automatic in the US. One reason was the committee's concern that Americans might not fully understand that they could opt out of donation or exactly how they could do so.

The policy scenarios presented to you here have been excerpted from a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "Harnessing the Power of Default Options to Improve Health Care," by Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD, Peter A. Ubel, MD, and David A. Asch, MD, MBA. Dr. Ubel is the Director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.

This article provides guidance for policy-makers in setting default options, specifically in health care. Generally, default options in health care are intended to promote the use of interventions that improve care, reduce the use of interventions that put patients at risk, or serve broader societal agendas, such as cost containment.

In this NEJM article, the researchers argue that default options are often unavoidable-otherwise, how would an emergency-room physician decide on care for an uninsured patient? Many default options already exist but are hidden. Without either returning to an era of paternalism in medicine or adopting a laissez-faire approach, the authors present ways to use default options wisely but actively, based on clear findings in the medical literature.

Some examples of default policies that may improve health care quality:

  • routine HIV testing of all patients unless they opt out.
  • removal of urinary catheters in hospital patients after 72 hours unless a nurse or doctor documents why the catheter should be retained.
  • routine ventilation of all newly intubated patients with lung-protective settings unless or until other settings are ordered.

Drs. Halpern, Ubel, and Asch conclude, "Enacting policy changes by manipulating default options carries no more risk than ignoring such options that were previously set passively, and it offers far greater opportunities for benefit."

Read the article:

Harnessing the power of default options to improve health care.
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Asch DA. New England Journal of Medicine 2007;357:1340-1344.

It is with both sadness and joy that we announce that CBSSM Co-Director Dr. Angela Fagerlin will be assuming a new position as the inaugural Chair of

Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah. While we are very sad to see Angie leave, we congratulate her on this well-deserved opportunity and are thrilled to see her enter this new stage in her career.

Dr. Fagerlin has been with the University of Michigan for 15 years and Co-Director of CBSSM for the last 5 years. She has been an integral member of CBSSM and all its precursors—the Program for Improving Health Care Decisions and The Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine. Dr. Fagerlin will be greatly missed for her friendship, collegiality, mentorship, and the great science she has produced over the years.

As of January 2016, current Co-Director of CBSSM Dr. Raymond De Vries will be joined by Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher, who will serve as an Interim Co-Director. Dr. Zikmund-Fisher is an Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health, as well as a Research Associate Professor of Internal Medicine. He has been actively involved with CBSSM and its precursors for over 13 years and has many research collaborations and mentoring relationships with CBSSM faculty, fellows, and affiliates. Dr. Zikmund-Fisher looks forward to helping to grow CBSSM's many research and educational initiatives in the future.

CBSSM Seminar: Paul A. Lombardo, PhD, JD

Thu, September 22, 2016, 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: 
NCRC Building 16, Conference Rm 266C

Paul A. Lombardo, PhD, JD
Regents' Professor and Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law

"From Psycographs to FMRI: Historical Context for the Claims of Neuroscience"

Abstract: In the U.S., announcement of the Presidential “Brain Initiative” has focused attention on “revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain” And neuroscience has begun to replace genetics as the field most likely to fill press headlines. The promise of more research funding for the field has led to extraordinary claims that research will soon lead to mind reading, lie detection, and unlocking the brain-based foundations of virtue and character. But these claims echo similar assertions from a century ago, many of which were eventually discarded as quackery, eugenics or misguided pseudoscience. Then the power of phrenology was touted, and machines like the “Psycograph” were offered to “thoroughly and accurately” measure “the  powers of intellect, affect and will.” Today similarly expansive claims are being made for color-coded functional magnetic resonance imagery. Are we facing true scientific triumph or mere recycled hyperbole? This presentation will explore the historical echoes of today’s most extravagant claims in the field of neuroscience, and analyze how our actual understanding of mental functioning compares to the hopeful assertions that are filling both the lay press and scientific journals.

CBSSM Seminar: Jeff Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH

Wed, October 19, 2016, 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: 
NCRC Building 16, Conference Rm 266C

Jeff Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Consumer Behaviors among Americans in High-Deductible Health Plans 
More than 1 in 3 Americans with private health insurance now face high out-of-pocket expenditures for their care because they are enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), which have annual deductibles of at least $1,300 for an individual or $2,600 for a family before most services are covered.  Though it is well known that HDHPs lead patients to use fewer health services, what is less known is the extent to which Americans who are enrolled in HDHPs are currently using strategies to optimize the value of their out-of-pocket health care spending such as (1) budgeting for necessary care, (2) accessing tools to select providers and facilities based on their prices and quality, (3) engaging clinicians in shared decision making which considers cost of care, and (4) negotiating prices for services.  Such strategies could be particularly helpful for people living with chronic conditions, who are even more likely to delay or forego necessary care when enrolled in an HDHP.  In this seminar we will examine these issues and review preliminary results from a recent national survey of US adults enrolled in HDHPs that aimed to determine how often these strategies are being utilized and how helpful patients have found them to be, which patients choose to use or not use these strategies and why, and identify opportunities for policymakers, health plans, and employers to better support the growing number of Americans enrolled in HDHPs.

Masahito Jimbo, MD, PhD, MPH

Faculty

Masahito Jimbo is Professor of Family Medicine and Urology at the University of Michigan. Having worked as a family physician in both urban (Philadelphia) and rural (North Carolina) underserved areas, he has first-hand knowledge and experience of the challenges faced by clinicians and healthcare institutions to be successful in providing patient care that is personal, comprehensive, efficient and timely. Initially trained in basic laboratory research, having obtained his MD and PhD degrees at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, Dr.

Last Name: 
Jimbo

Lesly Dossett, MD, MPH

Faculty

Dr. Lesly Dossett MD, MPH is Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Dossett is an Honors Program and Summa Cum Laude graduate of Western Kentucky University. She earned her medical degree at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2003, attending on a United States Navy Health Professions Scholarship. She completed general surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2010, where she served as Administrative Chief Resident.

Last Name: 
Dossett

Announcement of Position: Clinician Ethicist

Announcement of Position: Clinician Ethicist


Background
The Program in Clinical Ethics within the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM) represents an expansion of existing services designed to promote a culture of patient-centered excellence by developing a comprehensive set of ethics-related activities. The aims of this program are to: liaise with and provide support to the adult and pediatrics ethics committees; streamline clinical ethics consultation; assist with ethics-related policy development on a regular and proactive basis; organize and administer structured educational programs in clinical ethics; and coordinate empiric research with relevance to clinical ethics within CBSSM.


Program Organization
The Program in Clinical Ethics is co-directed by the chairs of the adult and pediatric ethics committees and consultation services, Christian J. Vercler, MD MA and Andrew G. Shuman, MD. A dedicated clinician ethicist will manage the program on a daily basis. A cadre of eight faculty ethicists will rotate on service throughout the year and work closely with the clinician ethicist. Trainees and students will rotate as well. Dedicated administrative support will be organized through CBSSM.


Position
One individual will serve as the program’s clinical ethicist. This individual will serve as the “first responder” and contact person for all ethics consults during business hours, ensure continuity with consults, and work in conjunction with faculty ethicists. The role will include arranging team/family meetings, ensuring follow-ups on all consults, and arranging additional consultations as needed for selected cases. He/she will also regularly review relevant institutional policies and attend all ethics committee meetings. Another major component of this role will be to organize and participate in educational efforts and preventative ethics rounds. This position will provide $50,000 of direct salary support annually, to be distributed and allocated in conjunction with their home department. The initial appointment will last two years and is renewable.


Qualifications
Candidates are expected to be employees or faculty at UMHS with a master’s or equivalent terminal degree in their field; any professional background is acceptable. Direct experience with clinical ethics consultation is required. Familiarity with ethics education and related clinical research would be helpful. Excellent organizational and communication skills across multidisciplinary medical fields are required. Candidates are expected to have qualifications that meet the standards outlined by The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) for accreditation for clinical ethics consultants.


Application Process
Candidates will be vetted, interviewed and chosen by a nomination committee. Candidates are asked to submit:

  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • One page maximum summary of (1) education/training related to ethics consultation; (2) clinical ethics consultation experience; and (3) motivation/interest in the position
  • Letter of support from Department Chair/Division Head/Center Director or equivalent
  • Submit formal application via email to: valkahn@med.umich.edu


Timeline

  • Application is due December 11, 2015 with interviews shortly thereafter
  • Appointment will take effect January 1, 2016


Contacts

  • Co-Directors of the Program in Clinical Ethics: Christian J. Vercler, MD MA & Andrew G. Shuman, MD
  • Administrative contact: Valerie Kahn – valkahn@med.umich.edu 734 615 5371

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