This is a good article and you can use the link the the bottom to read the entire article from Dr. Wes.   Privacy is on the minds of everyone right now and being a data person that worked with all types of medical software programs and writing queries and code modules, I get the idea real well beyond what the average imageconsumer or even doctor is told today and my efforts are to put some truth out there as to how data is used to create new data bases, how it queries and selects information and last but not least my opinions on how it gets interpreted, and that last one is the heavy here. 

There are countless posts here at the Medical Quack on privacy and on who collects and sells your data for money and doctors get it too, and even more so as they are tied to prescription records which do not fall under HIPAA and they are bought and sold right and left.  Here’s one item where he explains how the AMA collect and sells data and today when you view the site, it appears they like so many others out there are quickly becoming just another “software warehouse” with medical record and other types of programs.  You can’t help but notice it.

“Doctors have seen this sort of activity before when "only" our license and demographic information was sold by the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA currently "licenses" physician state medical license numbers and demographic information to health care information organizations (HIOs), HIOs then collect and compile this information with prescribing data that contains the doctors' license numbers (no names, mind you) and then sell the lists to pharmaceutical companies. The AMA tells its members it does "not collect, license, sell or have access to physician prescribing data" and this is true. But the AMA facilitates an intermediary's ability to pair doctors' license information to a their prescribing habits via a third party. One can only speculate how out prescribing and practice profiles are being developed by other similar health information companies with the use of our RFID tracking data.”

So why is this happening all over the place, everyone is trying to find a buck and many are flat out getting rich at it.  There’s a new movie that came out that talks about product placement and marketing and healthcare is looking pretty close to the same thing. 

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” Just Like “The Greatest Healthcare System Ever Sold”- Same Paradigms-Colbert Report (Video)

A few months ago I wrote about marketing in healthcare and talked a bit about the money being made here and we have this concept on steroids today to the point of where reality and real issues are getting crossed and I feel it’s in the best interest to keep things truthful out there and it’s not happening. 

Thank goodness for transparency so I can show examples and say this <grin>.   No wonder that poor reporter at Fox thought Pap Smears were available at Walgreens as the Colbert report pointed out a couple weeks ago. 

Why Is Almost Everyone In Healthcare Marketing Their “Ass” Off

You can search this blog by keyword and find quite a few articles on who’s selling your information, how they do it, and how much money they are making.  Walgreens themselves said publicly in a news article not too long ago that the intangible data business represents just short of $800 million, get the idea as to what’s going on here. Years ago I used to run around creating either a spreadsheet or a small Access data base to help doctor identify on EOBs when they were getting shorted on their HMO capitation pay, so there’s my passion, been there, seen that and wrote solution to help the doctors, so you are not just getting hear say at the Quack as at the same time I try to stamp out a lot of what I call “Magpie Healthcare” that presents itself in this format all over the web.  Not too long ago one of my cardiologist clients shared a few words with me in email and I’ll share his words here anonymously. 

First of all I and we appreciate all that you do.
Medicare is trying to save money yet they are doing at wrong. They feel that no one should get sick again within 30 days of a life threatening event (i.e. heart attack).
They are so bent on trying to save money that they expose either their ignorance, stupidity or just plain disregard for fellow human beings .

Be that as it may, if they want to save money in health care they first need to attack the ills in the system before they consider denying people health care.
#1 Tort reform. If part of what drives costs up is the fear of litigation and all the "unnecessary tests" then they need to help medicine overcome that fear. As a physician you live a life of fear where everyone is watching you and you have to constantly look behind your shoulder. You have lawyers ready to sue you, patients ready to attack you on the internet rating services, the medical board which forgets that they are there to help us practice medicine but instead feel that in order to justify their existence they have to prosecute physicians even if a patient who didn't want to pay their bill reported a physician, you have hospital regulatory committees, etc, etc. 
I am tired of worrying if I am complying with every damn organization, rule, peoples feelings and sensitivities, etc. It is hard practicing medicine and I feel I am a moving target all day long.
#2 How can you justify allowing organizations to gauge fellow Americans by charging them 5 x or more in medications than what they charge the rest of the world. How sick and un-American can you get........yet they have great lobbies and the weak legislators in our country fall prey to them.
In the past 15 years I get paid no more on average than what I did then for my services yet the cost of health insurance has tripled or more. It is because we pay a hell of a lot more for medications, new and additional ancillary services and home aid products, and of course technology.  Yet the bad guys are the doctors. I am seeing more and more free non insured patients in the hospital than ever without prospect of ever being paid for my services (tell a business owner that they have to provide free services) and yet I am at the mercy of these patients and their upset families for potentially being sued, reported to the board, or ruining my reputation with the on line rating services.
#3 they need to stop having lawyers and economists dictate healthcare. They have no knowledge......all they go by is anecdotal stories they hear. We all hear bad lawyer stories. Does that make us experts in judging the legal system?
If they insist on this then they should have physicians dictate tort issues and the economics of this country.  This would send fear up their spine yet they are doing the same to medicine. They have no business doing this. 
It is late and I can write more but I think you get the hint There will be a revolution some day but those in command don't realize they are doing things wrong and are too afraid for their existence to ask for help..

Dr. Wes also mentions scribes and the rate of growth they are experiencing.  Scribes were supposed to be a “temporary” solution to help doctors, but now they are becoming permanent. 

Scribes Still Continue to Grow in Hospitals–One Doctor Stated He Could See the Trend Expanding To Help Nurses Too

Case in point here is something has to give and you can’t keep piling more and more on and of course there’s no additional money coming in.  Don’t forget new technologies that come out along with new drugs and that creates new treatments for doctors to stay on top of as well.  As a consumer you would have cow if you saw the billing systems and the insurance matters offices deal with relative to claims.  So I think the time is coming to where someone needs to give a little room here to breath as they are not bad guys as sometimes portrayed in the news.  You can also add on this bit of nonsense too that is not needed with digital illiteracy with wanting to put MD Medicare claims online as it would cost millions and shoot companies that list doctors online can’t even get it right without tons of mistakes so think of how the Medicare claims would look.  It’s not as easy as the Dow Jones thinks with their lawsuit against HHS.  The MD quoted above found himself on staff at 3 hospitals he has never set foot in on the rating sites. 

Digital Illiteracy Is Killing Us With New Bill Wanting MD Medicare Compensation Put Online-No Clue on the Cost, Time and Truckloads of Errors to Audit and Correct

For my last 2 cents worth here, we have no role models either for consumers to use Personal Health Records, so consumers get attacked by the same people that say you need to do it and it’s good for you, but they don’t do the same and it turns out to be one of those do as I say deal, but I’m not doing it.  They say how good it is at the NIH but I’m not sure the Surgeon General uses the Surgeon General’s PHR, don’t hear anything <grin>.  By the way, the doctors are also supposed to tell you get one of these too.

Francis Collins On Personalized Medicine: How Can We Make It Easy- Combine Genome Info With Medical Records-Does He Use a PHR

I like technology and wrote a medical records program too, so I’m here hanging as I physically witnessed, helped, coded, and more with this entire effort and the balance is not here with enabling doctors to function as humans.  We know medical records are here to stay but you can’t keep adding more and more technology and expect that something is not going to give.  Here’s an interesting item to ponder…

Doctors Have Become One of the Largest Software Beta Testing Groups–”Magpie Healthcare” Unfortunately Still Thrives

So after all of this, what do we want, better care or marketing and selling data?  I don’t think we know the difference anymore sometimes with selling and buying our data in the lime light.  As consumers we in there too and unless some folks come to their senses with bringing back so ethics with using analytics in an intelligent fashion, we have this insanity that continues

Errors at hospital aren’t going down either.  Just for the record, here’s last bit of insanity that comes from the FDA.  Common sense tells you that the patient is the one who takes the medication and I'll rest my case here.  BD 

Why Is the FDA Focusing on Doctors With Painkillers–Focus Education on Patients Who Take The Pills - MDs Went Through Medical School To Learn How to Prescribe Drugs

Recently, a disturbing trend of monitoring physician quality and accountability has taken another ominous turn: tracking physician's movements at scientific conferences (so called "tag and release") using RFID tags imbedded in attendees name badges at national scientific sessions. Having had personal experience with the recent American College of Cardiology meeting, this technology will also be imbedded in the name badges for attendees at the upcoming Heart Rhythm Society meeting to be held in San Francisco in May.

On first blush, it shouldn't be such a big deal, right? It was all just a great way for companies to obtain, for a fee, the names and institutions of people who visited their display booths and for the conference organizers to track the movements of attendees. (Heck, maybe they can partner with an industry sponsor to pick up our traffic tolls on the way to the conference hall or arrange other exciting activities for us! [Said tongue-in-cheek, of course])

Doctors' privacy on the line as conferences track their movements | MassDevice - Blog entry


  1. The AMA’s role in sharing physician demographic data has real benefits for physicians. With the help of the AMA, physicians can exert control over pharmaceutical companies who want access to physician prescribing data.

    Physicians can use the AMA’s Physician Data Restriction Program (PDRP) to designate their prescription data as off-limits to drug salespeople and register complaints against pharmaceutical companies that use the data inappropriately. The program is free and any physician can enroll in the service regardless of AMA membership.

    The PDRP provides a balanced approach for addressing the diverse concerns surrounding the use of physician prescribing data. It gives the AMA the ability to intercede on behalf of physicians against unwanted use of prescribing data by pharmaceutical sales representatives, while preserving prescription data for public good purposes, such as medical research, quality improvement, drug diversion detection and drug recall notices.

    The release of prescription data to pharmaceutical companies does not seem to be a significant issue for most physicians. A Gallup survey that found 84 percent of physicians either were not concerned about the release of individual prescribing data or felt that the ability to “opt-out” of the release of their data to pharmaceutical sales representatives would alleviate their concerns. The AMA’s PDRP accomplishes this "opt out" capability. A subsequent market research study indicated that 96 percent of physicians participating in the PDRP were either satisfied or very satisfied with the program.

    Restricting access to prescribing data should be every physician's individual choice. Only the AMA can guarantee the nation’s physicians have that choice and control, while ensuring the data remains available for public good purposes. Without the AMA to protect physician interests, it’s likely that private companies would step-in and ignore the choice physicians deserve.

    Cecil B. Wilson, M.D.
    President, American Medical Association

  2. I wish the same were true for consumers as ours is not protected with prescription data and it is being used all over the place and sold.


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