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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