Earlier this week we reported that SHAPE was preparing to update its controversial guidelines. It now appears that the guidelines are only the public facade of a larger program designed to encourage the growth of, and take a larger share of, the business of cardiovascular screening. Although conflict-of-interest concerns have previously swirled around SHAPE, new evidence suggests that the non-profit organization has aligned itself with a commercial venture, and presumably stands to benefit from the success of these projects.
A key player is Jeffrey Fine, MS, PhD, the President and CEO of J&J Medical, LLC. The announcement from SHAPE about the new Task Force lists Fine as the “SHAPE Task Force II Executive Coordinator.” On his company website Fine is described in glowing terms:
Dr. Fine is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of coronary artery disease identification, and heart attack prevention including coronary calcium scoring.
But Fine is not a “nationally recognized expert” in anything: several genuine experts in the field told CardioBrief that they had never heard of him before. But as the Executive Coordinator Fine played a key role organizing the recent SHAPE task force meeting and inviting faculty to participate.
Whatever you do, don’t confuse Fine’s company, J&J Medical, LLC with corporate giant Johnson and Johnson. This J&J, on its website, describes itself as providing:
Cost Effective Opportunities for Healthcare Providers During Economically Challenging Times
J & J Medical, LLC offers pragmatic and cost effective growth solutions delivered by a nationally recognized team with unparalleled credibility and experience in early detection and prevention of chronic disease. We perceive the challenges healthcare providers face during times of reimbursement cuts and a waning economy. That is why we have designed proven, empirical business development tools that enhance patient services and bring recognition to your facility, while augmenting your financial position.
And here is the description from J&J Medical’s website of its collaboration with SHAPE:
J& J Medical has entered into a multi-year exclusive collaboration with SHAPE to serve as the “Executive Arm” of the Society. A primary focus of this “Heart Attack Eradication Campaign” will be identifying and selecting sites to establish superior early detection and CAD prevention programs and become SHAPE/Heart Health Certified “Centers of Excellence”. A nationwide series of coronary calcium scoring and early CAD detection workshops are planned to raise awareness and invite participation in the “Centers of Excellence” program. Finally, the Internet based SHAPE Certification programs for Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistants, and Registered Nurses are now available.
From descriptions on the SHAPE website, it appears the new SHAPE guidelines are intended as a marketing tool to help promote the “Centers of Excellence” product sold by SHAPE and J&J Medical. Here’s how the program is presented on the SHAPE website:
CardioBrief readers will have to decide for themselves whether this looks like a business and marketing venture or a public health initiative from a nonprofit.
Of course, not all business plans succeed. SHAPE and J&J appear to be somewhat desperate. So far only four “Centers of Excellence” are listed on the SHAPE website. Perhaps this is why SHAPE and J&J are, like KMART, offering discounts, seemingly contradicting their characterization of the program as sparking “tremendous interest” worldwide.
Center of Excellence Program Discounted for first 50 sites!
With several sites already participating and many more implementations being scheduled, the Board of SHAPE and J & J Medical have elected to discount the program implementation price by 50% to the first 50 sites to have their existing program certified or to implement a new certified Center of Excellence program. Securing the initial 50 Centers of Excellence is important and improves data benchmarking and Center of Excellence networking programs and is the reason for temporary discounted pricing.