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Managing Office Politics and Clinical Negotiations With Neal Bhatia, MD


Bhatia shares key pearls from his sessions at AAD 2023 discussing office politics and how to run a clinical research unit.

At the 2023 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, Neal Bhatia, MD, FAAD, director of clinical dermatology at Therapeutics Clinical Research in San Diego, California, will present on Monday, March 20th, on how to manage office politics and reviewing contracts and budgets within a clinical trials unit.

In his first session, Bhatia will speak alongside Joseph S. Eastern, MD, FAAD, and Francis W. Iacobellis, MD, FAAD, during “Managing Office Politics of Physicians, Patients, and Personnel: Pick Your Poison,” directed by Steven Kenneth Shama, MD, MPH. “We're going to have an interesting discussion of about 8 to 10 cases of scenarios where politics in the office, whether it be with staff, patients, or other dermatologists, can get very interesting,” said Bhatia.

Bhatia’s second talk on Monday, “Contract and Budget Negotiation,” is part of the larger session, “How to Run a Clinical Research Unit,” directed by Robert Bissonnette, MD, MSc, FAAD. Bhatia and colleagues Melinda Gooderham, MD, FAAD, Saakshi Khattri, MD, MBBS, FAAD, and Todd Schlesinger, MD, FAAD, will review the set up of a clinical research unit from the start, training, the importance of a good coordinator, and budget and contract negotiations.


Neal Bhatia, MD, FAAD: Hi, I'm Dr. Neal Bhatia. I'm director of clinical dermatology at Therapeutics Clinical Research in San Diego.

Dermatology Times®: What are a few key highlights from your session in "Managing Office Politics of Physicians, Patients, and Personnel: Pick Your Poison?"

Bhatia: So, on Monday at the academy, I'm involved in an interesting forum with 3 of my other colleagues, Frank Iacobellis and Joe Eastern, and directed by Steve Shama, and all of us are going to talk about managing office politics. We're going to have an interesting discussion of about 8 to 10 cases of scenarios where politics in the office, whether it be with staff, patients, or other dermatologists can get very interesting. Some of the compromising situations, whether they be about harassment, reimbursements, scope of practice, and just some other nuances, it will be all be very interesting. We hope to get the audience really involved. But it's a lot about nuts and bolts and things that we don't either want to talk about or think we have answers to. So, it'll be a really fun session to be involved in.

Dermatology Times: What pearls will you share during your session, "Contract and Budget Negotiations?"

Bhatia: Monday afternoon, I'm involved in a forum on running a clinical research unit, which is going to be really interesting for those who are trying to get into clinical trials or have had some thoughts about how to start performing clinical research in their office. I've learned a lot from my mentors, and I hope to pass that on down the road, I'm doing a session on managing contracts and budgets, which is challenging for the individual dermatologist to take on alone. You really need help from accountants and from lawyers, you need some good insights on what to do and what not to do in making a research budget, which is far different from billing for CPT codes and assessments that we do in clinical practice. The other part with contracts is there's a lot of legalese, a lot of things to work with, not just with the FDA with sponsors, but with other contractors as well. We'll talk about some of the abbreviations like CDA, CTA, and OMG, things that really get us confused. So, it should be a very interesting session, I'm looking forward to working with a bunch of my colleagues who also do clinical trials. And, again, a lot of people who I've learned from and hope to pass things along.

Dermatology Times: With AAD as the largest dermatology meeting, what do you look forward to each year?

Bhatia: So, there's something different about the academy meeting than any other conference because the academy is the mothership. It's not just a meeting, it's really the essence of everyone in the specialty getting together from all over the world. I've been fortunate to be involved in many committees, obviously, on the board of directors and as vice president. I've also been heavily involved with teaching, which has been really nice and flattering when people ask you to speak, because it's a place where we can all share our wealth of knowledge. You know, we all put together our own presentations. And it's nice too because we really understand partnership: partnership with colleagues, partnership with industry sponsors, not just support or sponsorship, but also just working together for common goals. As the Incoming Chair of the Corporate Relations Committee, I found it a really exciting time to work with a lot of sponsors, not just with Big Pharma but traditional derm pharma, and everything in between. I think it's really been a good, healthy relationship building the specialty as awareness to patients and to the public. And you know, just promoting ourselves as board-certified dermatologist and what we do. So, the academy is always a special time. It's also nice just to see your friends, especially those all over the country that you don't get to see very often, it's fun to be under the same roof again.

[Transcript edited for clarity]

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