News Articles : Power of the Lists : June 2011 :

How the AMA Edge makes the AMA list the best



The American Medical Association (AMA) has unique advantages over other physician data sources - what we call the AMA Edge. Here’s the inside story about six dimensions of the AMA Edge that make the AMA list the best physician list there is.

1. Data Collection

The AMA processes 41 million records per year - about 150,000 a day - from more than 2,200 primary data sources including:
  • State licensing boards (MD and DO)--the AMA list has over 2.7 million physician state licensure affiliations;
     
  • US - accredited medical schools--the AMA list records over 1 million medical school enrollments and matriculations. In addition, by virtue of obtaining matriculation records from medical schools, the AMA file captures birth-state and birth-country of over 1 million physicians;
     
  • The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS);
     
  • The National Provider Identifier (NPI) file;
     
  • The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG); and,
     
  • Residency training institutions  approved by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). --the AMA list records over 2  million residencies completed by physicians.
The AMA’s ability to obtain accurate and comprehensive physician data depends on strong, long-standing relationships with data sources. These relationships, which give AMA  unique access to authoritative data, exist because of AMA’s data exchange process. Through this arrangement, data providers are given ongoing access to selected AMA data (such as training information) that is useful for updating or verifying their own physician records.

Not just anyone gets this access - companies that collect data just to make a profit are unlikely to receive data from these authoritative sources.
The AMA Edge: Reciprocal data arrangements between the AMA and primary source data providers bolster the accuracy, robustness, and timeliness of AMA Physician Masterfile data. This gives the AMA a marked advantage over other organizations that collect similar information.
2. Data Verification

AMA’s Data Verification (DV) team researches approximately 105,000 physician records a year that can’t be computer matched to the Masterfile. This achieves as close to 100% match as possible. Other data companies don’t have the staff and expertise to achieve this level of perfection in data verification and reconciliation.

In addition, approximately 450,000 AMA Physician Profiles are ordered each year by nearly 5,000 hospitals and many managed care organizations to credential/re-credential physicians, as required by the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Unlike commercially available databases, the AMA Masterfile is accepted as an equivalent primary source for data elements including medical education, board certification, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration. Any discrepancies that arise in the credentialing process (such as marital names) are turned over to the DV team.

The AMA also verifies physician deaths. It is important that deceased physician records are flagged as soon as possible to protect physician identity and deter fraud. For this reason, the DV team includes staff solely dedicated to researching and identifying deceased physicians. In April 2010 alone, 494 physician deaths were confirmed.
The AMA Edge: The AMA Physician Profile service provides a unique pipeline for physician data updates as a function of the credentialing process, giving the AMA a unique edge over commercial data compilers. In addition, AMA has the staff, the data, and the dedication to manually reconcile records that can’t be computer matched, and to ensure that deceased physicians' records  are removed from the list. 
3. Data maintenance

AMA does data maintenance no one else can do, powered by nearly 300 million mailings a year, an annual census of physicians, and more.  

  • Nearly 300 million mailings per year -- Unlike other data providers, the AMA is its own best customer. The AMA relies on the quality of its own physician data file to reach physicians for purposes critical to the organization, such as the distribution of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Archives journals and membership recruiting. The database is used for nearly 60 million internal AMA mailings per year, along with 220 million external mailings.

    This mail stream costs the AMA more than $60 million per year. No other list provider can spend anywhere near this much money on mailing to all US physicians - AMA members and non-members - every year.

  • The AMA Census surveys more than half a million physicians annually - More than 540,000 physicians are contacted annually to participate in the annual AMA Census of Physicians. The AMA utilizes three survey methods - mail, secure Web, and telephone. Physicians are encouraged to update information such as address, phone, type of practice (e.g., direct patient care), present employment (e.g., solo or group practice), and self-designated practice specialty (SDPS).
Practice and communications data are continuously updated through United States Postal Service (USPS) services such as the National Change of Address (NCOA) and Address Change Service (ACS), as well as AMA-specific tools such as the AMA Online Data Collection Center (OLDCC), Graduate Medical Education (GME) survey, Physician Profile Service, and Group Practice data collection and verification initiative.

In addition, the AMA Unified Service Center (the AMA’s customer service group) talks with over 100,000 member and non-member physicians a year (nearly 500 a day), verifying contact and practice information on each call (including address, phone, fax, email address, type of practice, primary employment, and specialty).

The Center also makes over 20,000 outbound calls annually to verify information.

The AMA requests that physicians identify their Preferred Professional Mailing Address (PPMA), which is the location where they want to receive their mail (including journals) and where they’re most likely to read it. PPMA boasts a 100% fill rate with 97% deliverability, well above the industry standard. Another address type on the Masterfile is the Primary Office Location (POLo). POLo addresses are 92% comprehensive among office-based physicians in the file.
The AMA Edge: No other list provider can afford to spend the millions of dollars AMA spends to mail to physicians. That’s why the AMA list is the most accurate, comprehensive, and deliverable.

And no other physician list provider lets you boost response by mailing to the address physicians prefer, available for 100% of the file!

 
4. Tracking residents and medical students like no other physician list

Medical students and residents are the future of the profession. Reaching them is of particular importance to physician recruiters, but it is axiomatic in marketing to reach your market at an early age to help shape their attitudes, so they are a potentially important target market for any medical marketer. No list owner has the comprehensive and accurate data on medical students and residents that the AMA has.

The AMA establishes medical student records on the AMA’s Physician Masterfile and administers the National GME Census, a survey performed annually across all postgraduate training institutions accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Both data collection activities are conducted in collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The AMA has a unique data exchange agreement with the AAMC that fosters timeliness and accuracy in the databases of both organizations, as each is used to update the other.

The medical student data is procured from 132 medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). More than 82,000 student records are maintained on the AMA Physician List. The AMA assigns each new student a medical education (ME) number at the start of medical school. This important number is used to identify physicians throughout their careers. Updates to student enrollment status are applied quarterly. Approximately 17,000 medical students graduate each year.

Given the high volume of graduating students, the AMA’s Resident Physician Data team must quickly work to identify the postgraduate training programs into which these new physicians have transitioned. The team’s primary tool for this task is the National GME Census. This survey asks each residency program to verify the residents currently attending the program and provide status updates for residents who have completed postgraduate training or may have transferred to another institution. The strength of the AMA brand helps generate a 97% response rate.

The AMA also performs two large sweeps of the AMA Physician Masterfile after each annual GME census to update medical student and resident data. These data tend to be very dynamic due to the many transitions that occur during a physician’s education and training years (addresses, training institutions, etc.). The annual sweeps help to keep these data current.

The first sweep focuses on student records, and captures those individuals who have recently graduated and are entering a postgraduate training program. The sweep updates the records from “student” to “resident.” The second sweep addresses resident records and, for those who have completed postgraduate training and are entering practice, converts records from “resident” to “physician.” More than 155,000 GME records are updated each year through the National GME Census.

The AMA Edge: Medical student and resident data are difficult to maintain, since students and residents are often in transition—moving, transferring, changing institutions, changing specialties, etc. The AMA’s special relationships with the AAMC and ACGME allow AMA to provide the most accurate and up-to-date data available.

5. Capturing group practice affiliations


The AMA contacts group practices daily to verify office locations, contact information, group administrator names, physician affiliations, and percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The group practice data comprises two segments — data pertaining to two-physician practices, and data on group practices of three or more physicians. Both segments contain a demographic file of practice locations, and a file of physician affiliations to those practices. AMA’s group practice team handles the data collection and verification for more than 106,000 practice locations and 370,000 unique physician affiliations.

Through thousands of phone calls made throughout the year, physician rosters for group practices are obtained or re-verified on an ongoing basis. Once a group location’s demographic information and entire roster of physicians has been confirmed, the record receives a roster date. These dates are monitored and used to determine when the data needs to be re-verified, usually on a 9-12 month cycle. The roster date, therefore, becomes a useful indicator for clients to confirm the freshness of the data on record.

The AMA Edge: The group practice file identifies the relationships between the practice’s main/parent office locations and its satellite office locations, providing a full view of the entire group organization. Physicians are also affiliated to their actual practice sites — a very helpful tool for research and resource planning.

6. Accurately tracking licensure and disciplinary action

Many medical marketers limit promotion to licensed physicians. And recent negative publicity regarding physicians involved with marketing and CME programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies demonstrates the importance of excluding physicians who have been subject to licensure revocations and disciplinary actions from sensitive programs. Only the AMA has authoritative information on licensure and disciplinary actions nationwide.

The AMA’s Licensure and Disciplinary Action team is specifically dedicated to capturing updates to physician certification data — e.g., state licensure, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration, board certification, National Provider Identifier (NPI), etc. More than 40 million transactions from primary sources are processed annually by this group.

This team also records any sanctions that have been reported by state licensing authorities, the DEA, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This painstaking task is primarily manual, since the source documents are generally in hardcopy format, requiring staff to read through each and every order issued to apply the appropriate disciplinary code(s) based on the agency’s final decision. Board orders are detailed documents that summarize the cause for action and the final decision rendered by the certifying agency. Each sanction is carefully reviewed, interpreted, and categorized by the team before updates are applied to the AMA Physician Masterfile. Sanctions are added on a daily basis.

The AMA team also compiles the weekly Licensure Alert Bulletin, which is sent to all state licensing boards and medical specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The purpose of the bulletin is to alert agencies to reported sanctions for physicians that they either currently credential or have historically credentialed. To help ensure that none of this important information falls through the cracks, the AMA’s Licensure Alert Bulletin breaks down all the data by reporting agency (state board, DEA, HHS), making it easier for each board to identify physicians practicing in their state or certified by their medical specialty board. In July 2010 alone, the AMA team procured 749 physician disciplinary records and added 1,006 new physician sanction codes to the Physician Masterfile.

The AMA Edge: AMA has unique access to licensure, disciplinary, and other data, and its list is the authoritative source, enabling marketers to reach only properly credentialed physicians with no known disciplinary actions.

What’s new for you


In summary, these six pillars of the AMA Edge differentiate the AMA list from all competitors and give a powerful edge for your medical marketing program.
  1. Data Collection — The AMA processes more than 41 million physician records per year from more than 2,200 data sources. Reciprocal data arrangements between the AMA and primary source data providers bolster the accuracy, robustness, and timeliness of AMA Physician Masterfile data. This gives the AMA a marked advantage over organizations that collect similar information.

  2. Data Verification — AMA’s Data Verification team handles approximately 105,000 physician records a year. The AMA Physician Profile service provides a unique pipeline for physician-initiated data updates. It is very important to physicians that hospitals seeking their credentials receive accurate data from the AMA, so they have a practical incentive to provide updates to their information. Physicians are the AMA’s business — it  communicates with hundreds every day! No other data collection organization is accredited for credentialing, and this gives AMA a unique edge.

  3. Data Maintenance—No other list provider can afford to spend more than $60 million annually to mail nearly 300 million pieces to physicians, including a census that collects data from half a million physicians themselves (not from their receptionists or office managers).

    No other data owner learns from physicians themselves their Preferred Professional Mailing Address (PPMA), which is the location (office, home, or elsewhere) where they want to receive their mail (including journals) and where they’re most likely to read it, achieving a mail deliverability rate of 97%.

    And no other physician data source also maintains the AMA’s Primary Office Location (POLo) addresses, so marketers can reach physicians in person or via direct marketing at their place of business.

  4. Resident and Medical Student Data — Only AMA has a comprehensive and accurate list of medical students and residents, a foundation that ensures that all US physicians —both members and nonmembers of the AMA — are included in the list. Medical student and resident data are difficult to maintain, since students and residents are often in transition — moving, transferring, changing institutions, changing specialties, etc. The AMA’s special relationships with the AAMC and ACGME allow AMA to provide the most accurate and up-to-date data available.

  5. Group Practice Affiliation Data —The AMA group practice is phone-verified to identify relationships between physicians and groups at main/parent and satellite locations, a data architecture that will be increasingly valuable as healthcare is reformed.

  6. Licensure and Disciplinary Action Data — AMA has unique access to licensure, disciplinary, and other data, and its list is the authoritative source, enabling marketers to reach only properly credentialed physicians with no known disciplinary actions.
As the industry’s trusted source for physician data, the AMA Physician Masterfile is zealously maintained by strategically structured teams that utilize all available tools — many proprietary to the AMA — to keep the database in top form. Take advantage of the best data in the business. Get the industry-leading physician list from the industry leader in healthcare lists and direct marketing services, MMS.
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Nurse Practitioners List
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American Academy of Pediatrics List (AAP)
American Pharmacists Association Pharmacists List (APhA)
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