The motivation behind the Open Payments database is, of course, transparency. And most people agree that transparency is a good thing. What often gets lost in this discussion—and is a major cause of concern—is that, at present, the data is presented without much context. The CMS website says it plainly: “Open Payments does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial or which may cause conflicts of interest.”
And that is where the controversy and concern come in.
The Importance of Context
“Information without context isn’t transparency,” said Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, senior director of science policy and regulatory counsel for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).”If you don’t understand the data, you’re not better informed.”