Publicly available Medicare prescription drug data gives doctors the ability to compare prescribing practices among peers and across professions, making for a vital practice management and advocacy tool.
Initially released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier in 2015, the new Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data offers a privacy-protected database that lists providers and the drugs they prescribed in 2013 as part of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The listing includes total number of prescriptions by drug name and total drug cost in CMS' stated effort to promote better care and smarter spending in the federal program.
The dataset contains information from more than 1 million providers who collectively prescribed more than 3,000 distinct drug products, and about $103 billion in prescription drugs and supplies paid under the Part D program in 2013.
Optometry by the numbers
Optometry ranks among the top 10 specialties—No. 10—with the highest number of Part D prescribers, at 25,654. According to the dataset, optometry averages 4.8 unique drug products prescribed at an average total cost per provider of $17,501. That's in comparison to a group such as family practitioners, who prescribed the highest average of drug products, 75, at an average total cost per provider of $211,977.
These doctors of optometry account for a total drug cost of $339.4 million with the top 5 drug costs, including:
- Ciclosporin (Restasis): $103.5 million (31%)
- Travoprost (Travatan Z): $50.3 million (15%)
- Bimatoprost (Lumigan): $47.6 million (14%)
- Latanoprost: $18.4 million (5%)
- Olopatadine HCL (Pataday): $17 million (5%)
Ophthalmology accounted for a total drug cost of $1.8 billion with the top 5 drug costs, including:
- Ciclosporin (Restasis): $267.2 million (15%)
- Bimatoprost (Lumigan): $243.6 million (13%)
- Travoprost (Travatan Z): $183.4 million (10%)
- Brimonidine/timolol (Combigan): $103.9 million (6%)
- Brimonidine tartrate (Alphagan P): $103.8 million (6%)
Access CMS' Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data lookup tool to search by provider and view the full dataset. Read more about optometry's prescribing habits in the June 2015 edition of AOA Focus.
The AOA will use the time to evaluate its collection efforts and create a registry for the future that is most useful to improving eye health and vision care. The AOA launched the registry in 2015.
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Under new rules for the 21st Century Cures Act, doctors of optometry will need to prepare for changes going into effect April 5. Doctors should check in with their health IT vendor in order to make sure they meet the new requirements.