Give flawed payments database time to improve

December 05, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- A "Viewpoint" published in JAMA urges readers to be patient with the new federal Open Payments Program database. The site, designed to report drug and device industry payments to physicians, debuted substantially incomplete, the authors wrote, but it is too important to dismiss before its shortcomings are addressed.

"Viewed in the abstract, the value inherent in the transparency offered by the OPP database is beyond dispute," wrote Dr. Eli Y. Adashi, former dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University, and Sachin Santhakumar, a student in the Warren Alpert Medical School. "However, viewed in the light of day, the true value of the OPP database remains uncertain and probably too early to ascertain."

That's because when the database produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services went online Sept. 30, it was incomplete in four main respects: "This is a bad start, but we need to give it a chance," Adashi said. "It's quite amazing to realize that industry pays physicians $4 billion to $5 billion a year. It's a relationship between parties that really ought to be, on many fronts, at arm's length."

Improvements are indeed underway, Adashi said. Recently the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new tools to ease navigation of the site. In June 2015, the database will add year-round data instead of just five months worth.

And even in its present form the site has yielded new degrees of public oversight, including a New York Times story about a company's ties to doctors who prescribe its painkillers.

But the true potential of the site for journalists, policymakers, health administrators, doctors, patients, and medical educators remains hindered by its incompleteness, Adashi said.

Ultimately the OPP would be most useful to patients if its data were available within other sites that report other indicators of medical practice. That way consumers could assess their doctors in an all-encompassing, user-friendly site, Adashi said.

"With all that information under one roof that's easy to navigate, you wouldn't have to spend too much valuable time looking it up before decide on seeing somebody," Adashi said.

That is unlikely to happen any time soon and even the problems with the rollout of OPP may take time to fully fix, Adashi said.

But problems notwithstanding, he and Santhakumar conclude: "The OPP initiative must be viewed as the most potent antidote for potential conflicts of interest engendered by financial interactions between industry and the health care delivery enterprise. As such, it should be given the benefits of doubt and time."
In the article, Adashi and Santhakumar declared no financial conflicts of interest or funding for their work.

Brown University

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to