Providers of prescription drugs, medical devices and other health care products and services are spending heavily to get doctors’ and hospitals’ attention.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made that point by posting a big batch of “Open Payments” program data — specific data on 4.4 million payments that vendors have made directly to doctors and hospitals or on behalf of doctors and hospitals to charities.
The database includes $3.5 billion in documented payments made during the last five months of 2013. The database also includes vendor expenditures on consulting fees, research grants, travel reimbursements and gifts, and it also includes charitable donations.
Users can use a spreadsheet filter on the site to search for specific doctors or hospitals; to look for specific types of providers or specific types of payments; and to sort the data. A user could, for example, create a list of the dentists in Iowa who received travel reimbursement money from drug manufacturers.
The database includes only data from honest vendors that properly documented the payments they made. CMS officials note that they created the Open Payments database to implement a health payment transparency provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and that they are making no judgments about which payments are beneficial or which may indicate the possibility of a conflict of interest.