Thursday, April 26, 2007

Most Doctors get money or gifts from healthcare companies

Ninety four percent of physicians in a recent survey reported accepting money or gifts from companies providing drugs, medical equipment, supplies, or other healthcare services. The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine was based on a national study of the relationships between physicians and suppliers to the healthcare industry.

The study surveyed 3167 physicians in six speciaties: anthesiology, cardiology, family practice, general surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Here's a breakdown of what they accepted and how many:

  • Food or drinks in the workplace - 83%
  • Drug samples - 78%
  • Payments for consulting - 18%
  • Payments for speaking - 16%
  • Reimbursements for meeting expenses - 15%
  • Tickets to cultural or sporting events - 7%

source: New England Journal of Medicine

This data comes as no surprise to home care marketers. All of us have heard the phrase, "The doctor only sees sales reps who bring lunch."

Do you know that it is a violation of federal antikickback laws for the staff in a doctors office to request that you bring lunch in order to see the doctor if the purpose of the visit is to solicit Medicare or Medicaid patient referrals.

The OIG has ruled that small, non-cash gifts that total less than $326.00 per year may be acceptable to build relationships with physicians for educational purposes. However, it is our understanding that when a doctors office solicits gifts of any amount, that violates the law.

What's your view of this subject? How frequently are your sales reps solicited for meals or gifts in exchange for access to the doctor? What do you do to get around this sticky issue?

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:07 PM

    It's interesting, but no surprise, that physicians are accepting gifts of these types.

    Certified agencies, though not able to provide certain gifts or accept lunch solicitations, have an advantage over private-pay agencies in that they have a ready pool of Medicare/Medicaid clients they can smoothly transition over to their private services.

    I am the VP of a private-pay (only!) home care agency, and I believe that we can provide gifts and lunch without violating any federal laws. Sometimes for a private-pay agency, providing lunch or other perks may be a way of assuring that your agency stands out a bit and allows us to compete a little better with the agencies that serve both Medicare/Medicaid and private-pay clients.

    Providing high quality services and making the agency unforgettable are, in my humble opinion, the means by which private-pay only agencies can compete with certified agencies that also serve private-pay clients.