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Symposium explores patient responsibility as key to improving health care system


Is America ready to put trust in a more engaged and responsible patient population as the key to improving its health care system?

That’s the issue to be explored at the annual Indiana Health Law Review Symposium at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Indianapolis.

This year’s symposium, “Are We Willing to Trust Patients? Models of Responsibility, Consumerism and Blame,” takes place from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, March 8, in the Wynne Courtroom at the law school, 530 W. New York St., on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

“This symposium approaches patient trust across three important dimensions: financial responsibility, the rise of consumerism in health care, and patient responsibility for their own health,” said Nicolas Terry, Hall Render Professor of Law and co-director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at McKinney School of Law.

Terry said keynote speaker George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, will open the symposium with a 9 a.m. talk “exploring whether patients can be encouraged toward making better health care decisions with diverse incentives and disincentives.”

“Following the opening keynote speech, the event includes three panel discussions featuring health law experts from American University, Case Western University, Georgetown University, Michigan State University, the University of Arizona and IUPUI, some of the nation’s smartest thinkers about the evolving role of the patient in the provision of health care,” Terry said.

The first panel tackles the particularly difficult question of whether patients who are more financially engaged will make better health care choices.

The second panel deals with whether, given emerging technologies and cultural shifts, patients should be expected to act more like consumers than traditional patients when making health care decisions or purchases.

“That includes everything from using wellness apps on smartphones to using over-the-counter genetic tests,” Terry said.

The final panel will discuss personal responsibility for wellness, looking at whether health care practitioners can and should nudge patients toward better health and exploring the controversial question of whether it is appropriate to “shame” patients for unhealthy behavior such as smoking or conditions such as obesity.

The symposium is free of charge and open to the public. Participants are responsible for their own meal during the 11: 30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. lunch break.

Additional information, including online registration, is available on the symposium Web page.

Founded in 1987, the Hall Center for Law and Health is a multidisciplinary teaching and research center within the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The primary goals of the center are the education and career furtherance of law students and the analysis and improvement of health law and policy. The center offers J.D., joint degree and LL.M. programs to students, in addition to CLE programs and various educational programs for professionals engaged in the health sciences. The Hall Center is home to the Indiana Health Law Review, frequent guest presentations by leading academics, judges, bioethicists and health law practitioners, and major conferences.

The Indiana Health Law Review is a scholarly legal periodical edited and managed by IU McKinney School of Law students. The publication, based in the Hall Center, serves as an informational resource for practitioners, members of the judiciary, legal scholars and law students.