Bioethics for Breakfast: Direct-to-Consumer Healthcare: “Disrupting” Consent

bioethics-for-breakfastJim Dearing, PhD, and Kayte Spector-Bagdady, JD, M.Bioethics, presented at the Bioethics for Breakfast event on December 3, 2015, offering insight and perspective on the topic, “Direct-to-Consumer Healthcare: “Disrupting” Consent.”

If one were to conduct a public poll we imagine that a majority of respondents would cite autonomy and a right to informed consent as bioethics’ mainstays, reflecting the entrenched primacy of doctor-patient clinical interactions. In that familiar model, the doctor is the gatekeeper who determines health service needs and regulates necessary and appropriate access. But today’s health care has expanded far beyond the clinic. The public can now independently purchase health services online and readily obtain them at storefronts in a mall or on the internet – absent the traditional physician gatekeeper. While products and services such as ‘keepsake’ prenatal ultrasounds and genetic testing are not necessarily marketed as medical services, their results certainly have potential clinical consequences. How should such products and services be regulated? What ethical and legal responsibilities accompany the marketing of such goods? Who should be responsible for distinguishing “typical product hype” from the dangerous and disingenuous touting of product pseudo-benefits? How can we strike a fair and just balance between the free market or free speech and regulation aimed at protecting patient interests?

During the presentation, speakers examined those questions from ethical, legal and communication perspectives.

Jim Dearing, PhD
Jim Dearing (PhD, University of Southern California) studies and practices the diffusion of innovations. He studied under and collaborated with Everett M. Rogers for 20 years. Jim has led research projects funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Policy Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and private foundations including the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Jim is a Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Communication Michigan State University.

Kayte Spector-Bagdady, JD, M.Bioethics
Kayte Spector-Bagdady is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Center for Bioethics & Social Sciences in Medicine. There she focuses on the collective impact of laws, institutional policies, and ethics on equitable access to healthcare. Previously she served as Associate Director at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. There, she supervised staff work on the ethics of the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic, returning incidental findings, and whole genome sequencing, and was a lead staff investigator and author for the report “Ethically Impossible”: STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948. Kayte began as an attorney advising drug and device companies on FDA compliance. She received her J.D. and M. Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and School of Medicine respectively after graduating from Middlebury College.

About Bioethics for Breakfast:
In 2010, Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman invited the Center for Ethics to partner on a bioethics seminar series. The Center for Ethics and Hall Render invite guests from the health professions, religious and community organizations, political circles, and the academy to engage in lively discussions of topics spanning the worlds of bioethics, health law, business, and policy. For each event, the Center selects from a wide range of controversial issues and provides two presenters either from our own faculty or invited guests, who offer distinctive, and sometimes clashing, perspectives. Those brief presentations are followed by a moderated open discussion.