Healthcare Transparency Isn't Limited to Price and Quality

March 12, 2014

We’ve talked a lot about transparency in healthcare, or therefore lack of. We know that many states aren’t taking action when it comes to requiring the publishing of healthcare prices. Additionally, there isn’t a real system in place that requires the reporting of quality of doctors.

But it doesn’t just end there. Last week, on our Facebook page, we asked our friends what was most important when searching for a new doctor. The terms “competent” and “trustworthy” came up. Trustworthiness is a huge factor when discussing personal health issues with someone. You want to trust that your doctor has your best interest in mind and that the prescribed medication is the correct choice for your health and financial situation.

A new transparency project looks to shed light on the concern of trustworthiness when choosing a new doctor. ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs provides information on payments doctors and healthcare systems have received from drug and medical device companies for “promotional activities, meals, travel, educational items, consulting or research.”

While some amounts are very small, there are cases where doctors have received large amounts from $500,000 up to $1 million for giving presentations or participating in research for drug companies. It is important to note, that this sort of activity is legal, but studies have shown that it can influence what type of medication a doctor will prescribe. Isn’t it important to feel like your medication is prescribed based on the benefit it will have on your health, rather that your doctor’s wallet?

The good news is that there are efforts underway to make financial relationship information more transparent. Starting later this year, all drug and device companies will be required to report financial relationships with doctors and hospitals. It is a step in healthcare transparency and we hope this leads to bigger and better things for price and quality.

Would knowing if you doctor accepted money or gifts from a drug or device company influence your care decisions?

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