How to View Your Doctor’s Drug Company Payments

The CMS Open Payments database is up for the public to view, but the site is difficult to navigate.  Here is a step by step guide to using the site.

  1. Go to
  2. From the list of databases, click on the General Payment Data with Identifying Recipient Information – Detailed Dataset 2013 Reporting Year (or skip step one and just click on the link) as in the image.

    Click on the highlighted database link.
    Click on the highlighted database link.
  3. The page opens with a spreadsheet and a number of filter conditions.  Write in how you want to filter the spreadsheet (e.g. filter for last name and city/state).  You can add filters, such as the first name on the page too (see Add A New Filter Condition in lower right corner).

    Filter the spreadsheet data.
    Filter the spreadsheet data.
  4. Horizontally scroll the spreadsheet to see the columns you are interested in.  There are a lot of blank or useless columns.  You can remove unwanted columns by clicking on the Manage button (brown button with a gear).

    The money column.  You can exclude columns using the Manage button.
    The money column. You can exclude columns using the Manage button.
  5. Make sure you are looking at just one physician’s data.  In the figure below I have horizontally scrolled to the list of physician names.  Note that there is a Physician_Profile_ID with a unique ID number for each physician.  Pick out the physician you want to look at and add a filter for that ID number.  Remove other filters.  This should give you the data you want on an individual physician.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.05.46 PM
    Physician names and ID numbers. Filter on a specific ID number to get all that physician’s data.

And that’s it.  I haven’t explored the other databases.  I haven’t found any tool (other than a calculator) to sum the dollar amounts.   [ADDENDUM: Use the Export button to export the data in a form compatible with your spreadsheet.  Options include Excel and CSV formats.] This information should be enough to get you started with the Open Payments database.


By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.


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