A 'Viewpoint' published in JAMA urges readers to be patient
with the new federal Open Payments Program (OPP) database. The site has been
designed to report drug and device industry payments to physicians.
When the database produced by the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services went online on Sept. 30 it was found to be substantially
incomplete. OPP would be most useful to patients if its data were available
within other sites that report other indicators of medical practice, which
would allow consumers to assess their doctors in an all-encompassing,
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 said, "Viewed in the abstract, the value inherent in
the transparency offered by the OPP database is beyond dispute. However, viewed
in the light of day, the true value of the OPP database remains uncertain and
probably too early to ascertain."
The debut site was incomplete in four main aspects- with only
five months of data, incomplete vetting, de-identified payments, and limited
context. The true potential of the site for journalists, policymakers, health
administrators, doctors, patients, and medical educators remains hindered by
Improvements are underway. But, problems with the rollout of
OPP may take time to fully fix. Dr. Adashi said "This is a bad start, but
we need to give it a chance." The US 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 the present five months data.