The government’s data on payments to doctors and hospitals by drug and device makers is incomplete and hard to penetrate – but here’s a first look.
By Charles Ornstein
The federal government unveiled data Tuesday detailing 4.4 million payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
The launch of the so-called Open Payments website, mandated under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, was far from glitch-free: Some users encountered long delays and sometimes error messages trying to access its seven data tables.
Also, the site didn’t provide consumers with an easy-to-use lookup tool, a single place to search for a doctor’s name and see all results across data files.
It will take a while to dig deeply into this new trove of data, which covers the period of August to December 2013 and includes general and research payments, as well as payments to companies’ physician investors.
All told, according to officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, companies spent a total of $3.5 billion during that period on 546,000 individual physicians and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals.
So what’s interesting at first glance? With the caveats we’ll detail, here’s a few nuggets: Continue reading