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Share your thoughts on database design for tracking pharma payments to doctors

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Curtis Brainard of Columbia Journalism Review reminds reporters that their input is needed on the design of a federal database that will track payments from drug and device makers to doctors.

Investigations and databases, such as Dollars for Docs by Propublica, have revealed payments to doctors who had been accused of professional misconduct, had been disciplined or lacked credentials. Researchers have found evidence that payments can influence doctors’ treatment decisions (PDF).

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act mean that companies will have to report such payments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which will post the data on a public website. CMS has asked for “comments on how to structure this Web site for ultimate usability.”

There are a number of ways to submit your comments, detailed in this Federal Register announcement. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 17.