ProPublica has launched a new online tool allowing the public for the first time to view the prescribing practices and identities of physicians and other health care providers under Medicare Part D, ProPublica/Washington Post reports.
The tool accompanies ProPublica's analysis of Medicare Part D data from 2007 through 2010. The data -- obtained under the Freedom of Information Act -- showed widespread prescribing of drugs that are potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for elderly U.S. residents (Weber et al. , ProPublica/Washington Post, 5/11).
The online tool -- called Prescriber Checkup -- contains information on nearly 350,000 health care providers who have written at least 50 prescriptions for one drug under Medicare Part D during 2010 (Weber et al. , ProPublica/Washington Post, 5/11). The tool includes data on providers' patient populations and prescribing choices, including:
- The average length of a provider's prescriptions;
- The percentage of patients age 65 and older;
- The percentage of patients receiving at least one antipsychotic; and
- The percentage of patients age 65 and older receiving at least one antipsychotic.
Consumers can use the online tool to:
- Compare providers' prescribing practices to others in their state and specialty;
- Search a list of the 500 most-prescribed drugs to see the top prescribers; and
- Query individual providers to see which drugs they prescribe.
The tool also features a chart detailing the most prescribed drugs out of the American Geriatrics Society's list of medications that are risky or inappropriate for elderly patients (LaFleur et al., ProPublica, 5/11).
The authors noted that some doctors treat larger numbers of seniors and patients with disabilities, meaning that their ranking as a high prescriber does not necessarily mean they should be avoided (Weber et al. , ProPublica/Washington Post, 5/11).