When Leana Wen created the “Who’s My Doctor” campaign last year, the idea was to add some transparency to her profession. The effort asks participating physicians to disclose information about who they are and exactly where their money comes from. What Wen never anticipated was a barrage of pointed criticism — and even bomb threats.
The 31-year-old doctor’s campaign goes a step further than the federal government’s mandate requiring physicians to disclose all money they receive from drug companies. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data that outlined the $3.5 billion that companies paid to the nation’s doctors. The Open Payments database, mandated under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, was heavily opposed by physician groups and pharmaceutical companies.
“Incentives matter,” said Wen, who is an emergency room physician at George Washington University, in a recent TED talk. “If you go to your doctor because of back pain, you might want to know he’s getting paid $5,000 to perform spine surgery versus $25 to refer you to see a physical therapist, or if he’s getting paid the same thing no matter what he recommends.”
As part of the “Who’s My Doctor” effort, each physician voluntarily publishes a “Total Transparency Manifesto,” which outlines specific details about these issues. The data flows into a searchable database that prospective patients can use. Doctors detail everything from where they went to school to payments from healthcare companies to board memberships to revenue information for their practice.