Massachusetts just became the most transparent state in the nation, at least in terms of making public online a great data-dump of the money that health care providers receive from drug and device makers. The Boston Globe reports here that the database lists $35.7 million in payments from the second half of 2009, of which $16 million went to physicians.
Want to look up your own doctor? My initial experience is that it's not perfectly simple. I went first to the link the Globe provided, and eventually figured out that I should click on "Information for Consumers," then on "reports" then on "reports" again, then on "custom reports." (Prepared reports will give you a gallery of who gets and gives the most money — also fun but not so personally relevant.)
Then I clicked on "Payments made to a recipient report," then on "Run payments made to a recipient report" and finally, finally, could plug in my doctor's name. She looks clean, I'm happy to report. Not that I would've considered her "unclean" if she were there. I just might've perhaps asked her twice about any drug she recommended if she were listed as receiving money from its manufacturer...
If you try this at home, please share your experience! Did your doctor or other provider get any money or not? How do you feel about this?
The Globe reports:
The physician receiving the most during the six-month period, according to a DPH analysis, is Dr. Mary Ann Asbell in Cambridge, who was paid $194,275 by Genzyme Corp. in Cambridge for unspecified "bona fide services.'' However, she is not listed currently as a licensed doctor in Massachusetts, according to the Board of Registration in Medicine.
The other top four doctors were Dr. Charles M. Gibson, a Boston cardiologist paid $188,617 by six companies; Dr. Stephen John Ferzoco, a general surgeon affiliated with Brigham and Women's Hospital, paid $187,443 by Lifecell Corp. of New Jersey; Dr. Lawrence M. Dubuske, a former Brigham allergist, paid $153,385 by five companies; and Dr. Stephen B. Murphy, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, paid $149,996 by Wright Medical Technology of Tennessee.
This program aired on November 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.