The most recent AMA collaboration with IMS Health comes as the physicians organization continues to seek a balance between some of its members discomfort with data-miners and its own lucrative relationships with data-miners and their pharmaceutical industry clients.
The goal of the project is to improve the quality of patient care by increasing physicians knowledge of the latest scientific evidence on the use of drug therapies, as well as providing insights into physician prescribing patterns, according to a written statement by Edward Langston, chairman-elect of the AMA board of trustees.
The AMA is funding the first phase of these reports as a member service with IMS Health supplying the prescribing data, according to an AMA spokesman. A second phase of the program, to be funded by IMS Health, is planned in which a physician can access his or her individual prescribing information for the conditions covered by the reports, according to the AMA.
The initial newsletter focuses on migraine headaches; future publications will address diabetes and other ailments.
The AMA has long sold access to its comprehensive database on more than 650,000 U.S. physicianscalled the Physician Masterfileto data-miners, or what it calls health information organizations. In its most recent annual report, the AMA noted that sales from data, credentialing products and licensing royalties had increased 10% from 2004 to 2005 to $44.5 million. IMS Health is a purchaser of AMA data, a company executive confirmed. Robert Hunkler, the director of professional relations at IMS Health, said: We do have a database license relationship with the AMA, but this is apart from that. We are just providing the content information as a service, largely because our information has not been as fully utilized as it might (be) by all healthcare stakeholders.
In recent years, the AMA has taken steps to alleviate physician anxiety about companies using a physicians own prescribing data. To get a handle on physician concerns, the AMA commissioned a Gallup Poll of 5,000 randomly selected physicians and learned that 77% of physicians were aware that pharmaceutical companies have access to their prescribing data.
Kassirer said the financial ties between IMS Health and the AMA, influences me to insist that the AMA disclose fully all of their relationships with IMS and all of IMS relationships with industry.
He also said that four of the seven listed writers of the first newsletter have received personal money (honoraria or consulting fees) from industry.
Some or all of them might tilt toward drug therapy instead of other nondrug approaches, Kassirer said. Some might have even tilted toward recommending drugs from one company.
In a telephone interview, Langston said the decision to create the newsletter was borne out of AMA involvement with health information organizations. Wed had some questions arise on how the data was being used and (we tried) to devise an appropriate response to our members, Langston said. The AMA knew that prescribing data was being used by the HIOs, so the effort was to find a way to make that information useful to physicians.