29 March 2010

What is good for society is good for market research

What is good for society is good for market research: "

In a recent article ResearchLive [http://www.research-live.com/news/government/obamas-healthcare-law-brings-good-news-for-survey-researchers/4002351.article] the view was put forward that it was good news that the a change to the US Sunshine legislation was a good thing. The original version made it likely that doctors would have to declare any income received for taking part in surveys. This, it was feared, would result in fewer doctors being willing to take part in research. The general background for the legislation was concern over whetehr the payments doctors received changes their attitude or behaviour towards specific prodcuts and servcies.

Here is the comment I posted:

"My starting point with legislation is the assumption that if it is good for society then it is good for research (even if the immediate impact on research is not helpful).

In his Wealth of Nations Adam Smith pointed out that healthcare cannot operate as a free market because of the imbalance of power and knowledge between the buyer and the seller.

I think that in that context, requiring doctors to file a return declaring all payments has to be a good thing. Buyers of doctor's services would be better served if they knew of all other payments.

If such declarations became the norm, I would expect the long term effect on co-operation to be minimal (but it might drive incentives even higher). But, in my opinion we ought NOT to put our short-term interests before those of society in general and buyers of doctors' services in particular.

Indeed, I think we are moving towards a society were openness and transparency will be the norm in most sectors."