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“Virtually every interaction with a covered recipient has to be kept and analyzed,” said AdvaMed’s White.
Medtronic has spent more than a year and an estimated $10 million preparing to track interactions with an estimated 60,000 physicians.
Medtronic had to integrate and make adjustments to computer systems to make sure they capture information consistently. In particular, it meant identifying doctors who might have done business with different departments or company locations.
Schumacher said some doctors have told the firm they are uncomfortable with the change, saying “it’s not worth the stigma of having their income posted on a website.”
A greater concern may be that doctors don’t realize those dealings with will now be tracked.
The American Medical Association has a website devoted to the change and the AMA president posted tips in a blog.
Schumacher believes that may not have been enough. “I’m not sure the physician community knows this is coming,” he said.
At Advanced Circulatory, a 25-person company in Roseville, CEO Mike Black had to create a system for gathering payments and other valuable transfers to doctors or their immediate families. That includes more than software: It means making sure salespeople get information they never had to gather before.
Black estimates that the adjustments will cost his firm $20,000 a year to implement.
He already has heard from doctors who don’t want to participate in his company’s symposiums because they are afraid the free lunch might land them in a government database. Black worries that the new law will cause doctors “to shy away from perfectly legitimate educational opportunities” about his products, which are used to increase blood circulation.
Black has his doubts that many Americans will make use of this new trove of information. “I don’t believe the average consumer is going to take the time to go look at a database for a particular device or a particular company,” he said.
Grassley counters that even if individuals don’t, the media will. Concern about negative publicity will discourage doctors from giving biased information, the senator said.
Doctors may not like it, Carragee acknowledged, but the law should help ensure that “research done with industry financing will have to be vetted.”
That’s “how science is supposed to work,” Carragee added.
Jim Spencer • 202-383-6123