Thursday, August 8, 2013

The American Medical Association File: The Premier Physician Database, Available at GT Marketing, Ltd.

The American Medical Association File: The Premier Physician Database, Available at GT Marketing, Ltd.
By Frank Nyfenger

     The American Medical Association (AMA) owns the premiere physician database in the United States. Since it contains both members and non-members of the AMA, it is considered the leading resource for all data-related and manpower-related information about physicians. Physicians are assigned what is called a Medical Education Number (ME Number) when they either enter medical school, or come to the United States from a foreign medical school to take their residency training. This number is unique to the physician, and is never repeated in the database. 
     The AMA file is a way to reach every single physician by his or her primary specialty (there are a total of 267 primary specialties identifiable on the AMA Masterfile) and practice type. Included in the file is everything from office-based and hospital staff physicians, to residents, and physicians who are in teaching, administrative, or research capacities.
     The main reason people utilize the AMA file is to satisfy the need to reach every single physician practicing in a particular specialty. Unlike other databases (especially compiled databases where duplication is very common), since the AMA issues only one ME Number for each physician, duplication of names is eliminated. While phone-directory databases are sometimes less expensive, they are not nearly as accurate or comprehensive, and there is almost always duplication of names in any given segment.
     The AMA contains board certification data, sourced from the American Board of Medical Specialties. The AMA file also lists the medical school and residency programs attended, as well as the years of graduation from these programs. Also included are the date of birth, gender, telephone number (in approximately 70% of the cases), and e-mail addresses are available on approximately 65% of the records. Physicians who are retired or presumed dead are not included in the file. The database is updated every single week and, therefore, is incredibly accurate. This accuracy proves vital as the databases are subject to a number of changes. Anywhere from 10,000-15,000 records change each and every week based on a total number of approximately 900,000 records in the database.
Just about every major and medium-sized pharmaceutical company in the US sublicenses the AMA file. Common uses for the file include tracking the sales calls that sales representatives make on physicians, quantifying prescriptions written by those same physicians, and keeping record of the payments made to those physicians (under the new legislation enacted by Congress to track pharmaceutical companies’ payments to physicians). GT Marketing has been providing the AMA file since 1995 and has extensive knowledge regarding both the database, as well as why and how to use it most effectively based on the project at hand.
     One thing to consider when renting a physician list is how to cover yourself from blame if you fail to get the desired results from your campaign. You can never go wrong by renting the AMA list, as it is the premier physician database in the United States, and there is none better. Other databases, such as compiled lists, simply fail to measure up. It is very hard to justify why you used a compiled list when you could have simply accessed the AMA file. Many of the compiled directories develop their lists using phone directories. A main issue with this technique revolves around the limited number of physicians still advertising via phone directories. Not every physician will list his or her practice information in the directory, especially those in group practices and hospitals where physicians are employed or working, and thus do not advertise. You miss those individuals who are in residency programs, seeing patients, prescribing drugs, and participating in all the other activities that a regular physician would participate in, but are simply not advertising. You also do not get the administrators, researchers, or teachers because they also are not advertising. Phone directories are usually 6-9 months old the day they’re published, so by the time they get compiled into an online database, they are even older, inaccurate, and woefully deficient. 
     The AMA offers a discounted rate for those customers who are sending out invitations, literature, or study materials for programs that have been accredited by the AMA or the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). There is a discount of approximately $6.75 per thousand names extended for those types of programs. The AMA file is highly deliverable in the mail-stream. Approximately 99% of the postal addresses are deliverable at any given time, due to the intense cleansing and updating of the file. There are over a thousand sources of data that combine to update the AMA database, including everything from medical schools and residency institutions, to the American Board of Medical Specialties, state licensing boards, and the AMA’s own publications, such as JAMA and other specialty magazines. All of the undeliverables that are processed through those groups are funneled back to the AMA so that the database can be updated accordingly.
     Since the file is constantly being updated, it is important to always inquire with the specifications for your project to determine what the most up-to-date counts are. Oftentimes, a consultation with a GT Marketing representative will yield a more specific set of criteria resulting in a smaller list and, consequently, lower list rental costs, lower printing and mail handling costs, and lower postage costs (which represent the most expensive component of a mailing). The professionals at GT Marketing have years of experience understanding what needs to be done to market various products and services to the right targets, and are experts at helping you ‘get your message across’.


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