AMA, Harvard Health Publishing 'pause' partnerships with Outcome Health

The American Medical Association and Harvard Health Publishing suspended their partnerships with Outcome Health amid speculation select employees at the Chicago-based tech and advertising startup misled advertisers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The organizations have decided to "pause" their partnerships with Outcome Health until the company's legal matters are resolved, according to a staff email obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Outcome Health installs flat screens and tablets in physicians' offices to display patient-targeted videos including educational content and pharmaceutical advertisements. Harvard Health Publishing, a division of Boston-based Harvard Medical School, teamed up with Outcome Health in August to provide advisory support and faculty review of the company's educational materials.

However, Harvard Health Publishing has stepped back from the venture following reports a group of investors sued Outcome Health and its two founders Nov. 7, alleging Outcome Health engaged in fraud and breach of contract. The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court in New York County, builds on an Oct. 13 The Wall Street Journal investigation that alleged a subset of employees at Outcome Health manipulated pricing and sales information to mislead pharmaceutical advertisers.

"Given the serious nature of recent events, we are reviewing the situation to determine next steps," Gregory Curfman, MD, editor-in-chief of Harvard Health Publications, said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

The AMA ran an educational campaign about prediabetes on the Outcome Health network during the summer. "In light of recent unfavorable reports in the media regarding Outcome Health, we requested that all AMA content displayed on any ContextMedia platforms be removed immediately," according to an AMA statement emailed to Becker's Hospital Review. ContextMedia is Outcome Health's previous name, which it changed in January.

"While the AMA's pilot with Outcome Health ended in October 2017, they agreed to continue donating media as part our strategic work to reduce prediabetes, which is aimed at reaching more of the 84 million Americans who have prediabetes and the 90 percent who are unaware they have the condition," the AMA statement reads.

An Outcome Health spokesperson highlighted to The Wall Street Journal more than 90 percent of the company's content partners remain active. The spokesperson added the company "continues to sign up prominent new healthcare systems and advertising clients."

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