Let’s face it. Outside of your immediate family and friends circle, your relationship with your doctor is one of the closest ones you have.
Your doc probably knows some things about you that even the love of your life doesn’t. And you need to be able to, quite literally, trust him with your life.
And a little-known tool, launched a few years ago, could help you do JUST that. I’ll tell you more about it in just a moment.
But first, let’s get something straight right away. MOST doctors are in medicine for the RIGHT reasons… even if they are a bit misguided at times. They care about making people well and keeping them that way.
But there are enough bad apples only interested in a quick buck that it’s necessary to take a closer look at your own to be sure YOURS isn’t on the take too.
I’m talking, of course, about those docs who are willingly being bought off by Big Pharma.
It’s an open secret that a big part of the drug company’s marketing budgets goes to gifts designed to influence doctor’s prescribing habits.
Oh, these days, they’re often thinly veiled as something else, of course.
- fully paid for “educational conferences” in exotic locations
- “in-service training” that comes complete with high-end catered spreads
- excessive “speaking and consulting fees”
But you and I both know that what’s REALLY happening is that the doctors are being wined, dined, and sometimes directly paid to push the drug companies’ pills.
Tracking Big Pharma’s payoffs with “Open Payments”
Now, just a few years ago, there was no way for the average citizen to protect him or herself from those bad apple docs. And no way to know if the prescription you were filling may have been influenced by those underhanded drug company marketing tactics.
But the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act changed that. Now when drug companies or medical device manufacturers pay off physicians, it’s publicly reported.
Which brings me to that tool I mentioned earlier. It’s now possible for everyday folks like you and me to find out if their doctor is on Big Pharma’s “payroll.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains a free Open Payments database. And I’ll tell you exactly how you can find it and look up your OWN doctors in just a moment.
But first, let’s talk for a quick moment about those payments.
If you look your doc up and find he has received some sort of payment, it doesn’t mean he’s definitely one of the bad guys I’ve been talking about. There CAN be legitimate reasons for receiving a payment.
But, at the same time, if you see a PATTERN, it could spell trouble. Because no matter how much a doctor believes he can’t be influenced, the fact is those Big Pharma gifts DO influence prescribing. And there are studies to prove it.
How to check on your OWN doc
Now, as you can imagine, there are a bunch of physicians out there who aren’t fans of the Open Payments database. And it goes without saying Big Pharma doesn’t like it either.
Their default argument against the system is to issue dire warnings about it creating “a loss of trust” between patients and their doctors. Which is ridiculous because that means it’s WORKING.
Let me explain.
It’s true that since the new system was launched, there has been a slight 2.7 percent dip in trust. But that means that empowered citizens are merely using the database to weed out those bad apples.
Which is EXACTLY what we want to happen. And those folks who check and see there’s no pattern of ongoing Big Pharma payments to their own doctor will be left with an even STRONGER sense of trust.
So, are you ready to check on your own doc? It’s easy. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “search physicians Open Payments,” and it should be the first choice on the results list. Click and then enter your doctor’s info. (Or even easier, just click here.)
You can find out if he has accepted gifts of travel or food and beverages. And you can also see if he’s cashed checks for helping to promote a drug. Or spot if he has ownership stakes in certain products or companies that could influence his prescribing and care.
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