hey everyone read this really even your records can be in a strangers hand but im being stalked because i reported my abusers THAT IS WHY I WALKED OUT OF A PRIVATE DOCTORS OFFICE WITH THIER PORTAL UNDER MY COAT.

Understanding the Lucrative Business of Selling Medical RecordsPrinter-friendly format By: BY GLORIA BUTLER BALDWINBuying and selling certain health information isn't new. Since the 1940s, health insuring organizations (HIOs) have bought prescription records from a variety of sources, including through the claims process by managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit mangers, and others, and then linked with physicians listed in the Physician Master File of the American Medical Association (AMA).

Pharmacy information, which includes physician and pharmacy identification, prescription fill and refill data, product name and quantity dispensed, authorized refills, cost, and payment and insurance information, is compiled by the HIOs and sold to pharmaceutical manufacturers for significant revenue. Approximately 2.9 billion prescriptions are filled annually by pharmacists.

In the June 29, 2006 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Robert Steinbrook addressed the lucrative business of buying physicians prescribing data and the growing rebellion of physicians against the companies using the information as marketing tools.

According to a 2005 Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Health annual report, operating revenue of $1.75 billion was derived from sales to the pharmaceutical industry. Forty-eight percent was from "sales force effectiveness offerings," which include "sales territory reports and prescription tracking reports." In 2005, the AMA received $44.5 million in revenue — about 16 percent of its total revenue — from the sale of database products.

Physicians are chomping at the bit because their personal prescribing data is open book, when patient records are, for the most part, protected under HIPAA.

To prevent losing license agreements with certain health information offices, the AMA issued its Best Practice Guidelines for pharmaceutical companies to follow when obtaining and using prescribing information to ensure its confidentiality and prevent its disclosure to other parties. The guidelines also say that using the data to pressure or coerce physicians to prescribe certain drugs is "absolutely an inappropriate use."

One pharmaceutical rep who talked candidly about how the data gathering really operates, was reluctant to provide his name, saying "it would be career suicide."

"It's all about marketing," said the source. "They say it's for research and to some degree it is. But mainly it's used for research in how to make more money. We get information about which doctors are prescribing what drugs, and for how much so we can see which ones we need to go push a harder. There's a ranking list of our best prescribing doctors. Pharmaceutical manufacturers even use those reports to decide how much to pay their sales representatives."

IMS Health uses the collected data from about 70 percent of all prescriptions filled in community pharmacies and projects nationally representative data.

State laws supersede the AMA guidelines. New Hampshire recently passed House Bill 1346, which criminalizes the collection and disclosure of information about the prescribing practices of physicians and other healthcare providers.

Verispan LLC joined IMS Health Inc., in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to protest the constitutionality of the New Hampshire law. IMS said the new law goes beyond patient privacy and has created a special privacy right for physicians at the expense of healthcare quality and patient safety.

The AMA agrees that information "critical to improving the quality, safety and efficacy of providing patient care through the application of evidence-based medical research," should be shared, but not for self-gain.

Other states are devising their own plans. The California Medical Association, in conjunction with IMS Health, is conducting pilot testing that will allow physicians who do not restrict access to their information to see their own comparative data and educational material. Pilot testing will be completed this year and may be available throughout the state in 2007. Similar programs could take hold in other states.

According to a recent article by Robert Musacchio of the AMA and Robert Hunkler of IMS Health, the rules of the new program "allow the industry to retain access to prescribing data for most purposes, but they require companies to police their own sales forces."

They warned that unless companies "comply in letter and spirit with the requirements," they "will sabotage the success of the program and pave the way for legislation that imposes stricter measures on the industry."

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