What makes Indian call centres tick

first_imgWhat makes Indian call centres tickOn 29 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article DeeDee Doke travelled to Bangalore and New Delhi to see how major operatorWipro Spectramind is using people development to deliver a competitive serviceand put the integrity back into business in IndiaIt’s no secret that call centres and business processing outsourcing (BPO)have become big business in India. So big, in fact, that the workforce of thecountry’s largest third-party remote processing centre grew from 50 to 5,000 injust two years, and is still growing. During the last three months alone,demand for its services has been climbing at such a pace that Wipro Spectramindhas added an average of 800 new recruits every month just to keep up. Its HR team can even afford to be selective as up to 150 applicants walk into each of its sites every day. Between 7,000 and 8,000 young men and womenrespond to every advert the company places. But only seven or eight out ofevery 100 are hired to work the eight-and-a-half-hour shifts, five times a week– serving UK and US clients – at the firm’s sites in Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhiand Pune. “We choose the raw materials – uncut diamonds,” said companychairman Raman Roy. “Then we cut the diamonds and polish them.” A June 2002 study by India’s National Association of Software and ServicesCompanies and global consultancy McKinsey estimates that the global potentialfor BPO’s in 2005 is £148bn, with India’s share worth £15bn. By 2008, thesurvey predicts, the country will need more than one million call centreworkers to meet demand. International clients Spectramind’s call centre clientele includes the Dell Computer Corporationand immediately recognisable brand names which the company will not publiclyreveal. Among its many BPO clients are the Scottish Parliament, Thames Water,ABN Amro, Allianz, NTL, Thomas Cook, Nokia and Microsoft, and many otherpotential clients have visited. “We’re very excited about the growthprospects,” said Roy. The New Delhi call centre operation lies within an industrial zone of thesprawling city where monkeys stalk past the windows and over the roofs. Inside,several floors are filled with operator cubicles, and a single floor may bededicated to a sole client. Banners cheering on the given team hang from wallsor the ceiling. With no dress code, a Metallica t-shirt is just as at home inthe office as a sari. The grand finale of a team briefing before a shift is arousing blast of cheers. While the attrition rate – said to be in the high 20s – is higher thanSpectramind’s management would like, the company aims to create a workplaceculture far from the sweatshop stereotype, building on the philosophies of suchpop management gurus as Ken Blanchard and the traits of the Generation Yworker. “Everything revolves around fun as a value,” said RajaVaradarajan, vice-president, talent engagement and development. Because recruitment is so critical to the business’s success, the concept offun in the workplace has been extended to involving staff in bringing in newemployees. Prizes such as motorcycles, trips, mobile phones and cash areawarded in special recruitment drives, which have led to impressive statistics.Recently, 19-20 per cent of new hires were recruited by existing staffreferences. “We want to increase that to between 40 and 50 per cent,”said Varadarajan. Rigorous processes The company’s recruitment process is rigorous. The first level of hiring isoutsourced, and only shortlisted candidates ever meet a hiring official fromSpectramind. If a candidate ultimately does not make the grade but seems tohave potential, the company invests in pre-hire training to try and bring themup to the desired level of capability. Last year, between 400 and 500 candidates received pre-hire training with asuccess rate of 60 to 65 per cent, Varadarajan said. Even those who fail are likelyto succeed elsewhere. “The pre-hires are often hired by our competition,” he added. Once hired, the battle is on to keep the new recruits who undergo intensivetraining in UK or US culture, intonation and call centre work itself beforemanning the phones. By UK standards, the pay is poor, ranging from theequivalent of £112 to £168 a month. However, it is reasonable by Indianstandards, and even more so for the young singles with an average age of 23,who typically work there. Traditionally they live at home well into adulthoodor share flats with friends if they come from outside the city. Development opportunities Ambitious workers can advance their careers if they choose to stay in thebusiness. Up to 60 percent of Spectramind’s supervisors come from within. “We’ll provide opportunities for growth. And career development is notvertical alone – it’s also lateral,” Varadarajan said. “We allowmovement across functions.” Innovative employee perks at Wipro Spectramind actually benefit the employeras well. A concierge service, available to every employee, keeps the worker onthe job while someone else handles the inconveniences of Indian life, such ashaving to pay household bills. Employer-provided transportation gets staff tojob sites on time and returns them to their homes – with the safety of femalestaff taken particularly seriously. A male employee is always the first to bepicked up and the last to be dropped off on the bus routes. The cost savings to Wipro Spectramind result in two ways: staff are sure tobe on the job when they are needed, and the firm invariably gets good pricesfrom the vendors for their services. “We negotiate based on scale, and it is always a win-winsituation,” said Varadarajan. With the shift of IT enabled services such as call centres and other BPOconcerns to India reaching floodlike proportions, Spectramind is mindful thatthe competition for both new business and qualified workers has gone beyondintense. “The shakeout has already started,” said Varadarajan. “Thebig players are in now.” Profile Wipro LimitedEmployees: Between 18,000 and19,000Headquarters: Bangalore, IndiaOther facilities in India: Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai,New Delhi, PuneOverseas locations: Australia, Canada, Finland, France,Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, UK, United Arab Emirates, US Net income in 2002: $170m, down 3 per cent from 2001Revenues in 2002: $902m, plus 28 per cent from 2001 History: First created as a cooking oil company. Cookingoil, along with other consumer products, is still made by the company, butWipro has gone on to embrace software, hydraulics, medical systems, callcentres, business process outsourcing and energyRecruitment: About one in every 100 applicants is hiredHR practices include:– Highly formalised succession planning at managerial levels– A requirement that 5 percent of the workforce’s time bedevoted to training and development– An annual technology forum for sharing information amongemployees about company projects– Identification of and strategies to retain ‘at risk’ talentthat may be planning to leave– An employee portal that, among other offerings, providesemployee self-service, promotes knowledge sharing and allows workers tonominate colleagues for recognition– Competency mapping – Life-cycle leadership training Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

HSE publishes its blueprint for tackling workplace stress

first_img Previous Article Next Article HSE publishes its blueprint for tackling workplace stressOn 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Organisations encouraged to take part and offer feedbackThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has outlined in greater detail how itsmanagement standards for dealing with stress in the workplace will work. A blueprint for the Management Standards for Stress was posted on the HSE’swebsite at the start of June, a few weeks later than planned, setting out themethodology and thinking behind the standards. Organisations are being encouraged to have a look, with details of how totake part on the website and any feedback set to be incorporated when thestandards are formally launched next year. Some 20 public and private sector employers have agreed to pilot thestandards (see box below), which are based on seven causes of stress, asoutlined in the HSE’s Tackling Work-Related Stress. As a benchmark, the standards estimate that about 20 per cent of employeeswithin an organisation are likely to be very or extremely stressed at any onetime. To meet the standards, at least 85 per cent of an organisation’s employeeswill need to be satisfied with the demands put on them, the level of controlthey have and the sort of support on offer. When it comes to managing relationships, roles and change, the standard willbe achieved if at least 65 per cent of employees indicate they are satisfied. Within each standard, the HSE has outlined a range of measures thatorganisations need to achieve, for instance, ensuring there is adequatecommunication and consultation. Firms are also expected to carry out an auditto identify problems, consult with unions and managers and provide confidentialcounselling, where appropriate. Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said:”There is a difference between the buzz people get from doing achallenging job, and an unreasonable pressure that can harm health, lead toabsence and put additional strain on colleagues, who are trying to cope in aneven more pressured environment. “So, in developing a new approach, it is important to get activeparticipation, agreement and feedback. That is why we have decided thatinnovative firms seeking an answer can have a go with this scheme.” www.hse.gov.uk/stress/stresspilot/index.htmKey standardsThat at least 85 per cent ofemployees: – indicate they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs– have a say about the way they do their work– receive adequate information and support from theircolleagues and superiorsThat at least 65 per cent of employees:– indicate they are not subjected to unacceptable behaviours(for example, bullying) at work – indicate they understand their role and responsibilities– indicate the organisation engages them frequently whenundergoing an organisational changeIn all of these, firms must also demonstrate that there aresystems in place locally to respond to any individual concerns. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Exit Facebook – Enter Deep Space

first_imgYour Physicists Need You! An Oxford team of astrophysicists is enlisting the public’s help in classifying newly discovered galaxies at http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ The name is whimsically inspired by the huge (and stunningly beautiful) variety of galaxies – one million never before seen by human eyes – milling against the darkness of the universe, a zoo of the new and unknown. Newly discovered galaxies need to be sorted into types – elliptical and spiral – and since the launch of the website a week ago, 40,000 have already signed up. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is taking these images in an attempt to help scientists understand better how galaxies are born, evolve, and die. Volunteers have been recruited from around the world – Japan, New Zealand, and Russia are just a few – and Dr Lintott, a member of the Oxford team, claims the interest has appeal even further afield: “I’m convinced that somewhere out there there is an alien at a computer spending two seconds looking at an image of the Milky Way, saying that’s just another spiral.”But why people (or aliens, for that matter)? Why not use a computer? Because you, yes you, are better than any super-computer can ever be at recognising patterns, shapes and resemblances (try sticking that on your CV for your next interview). The website explains: “Any computer program we write to sort our galaxies into categories would do a reasonable job, but it would also inevitably throw out the unusual, the weird and the wonderful. To rescue these interesting systems which have a story to tell, we need you.”While some unfortunates may argue that facebook too is a collection of the unusual, the weird and the wonderful, if you’re looking for something a little different, the GalaxyZoo awaits. Try your hand at identifying galaxies at http://www.galaxyzoo.org/Tutorial.aspx. Deep space is just a click away. Cherwell24 is not responsible for the contents of external websites.last_img read more

FSB reveals “alarming” levels of supply chain bullying

first_imgAn investigation by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed what it calls “alarming” levels of unfair dealing, just a week after Premier Foods hit the headlines.In a new survey of 2,500 FSB members, one in five said they had faced “supply chain bullying” in the past two years.This survey comes after Premier Foods, owner of Mr Kipling, was criticised for its ‘pay and stay’ practices, in which suppliers were urged to invest in the business or risk being dropped.The research revealed five types of common practices that small businesses had faced. These were:1)    Flat fees – ‘pay to stay’2)    Excessively long payment terms – ‘pay you later’3)    Exceeding payment agreements – ‘late payment’4)    Discounts for prompt payment – ‘one for you, one for us’5)    Retrospective discounting – ‘balance sheet bonuses’The FSB is now calling for the Prompt Payment Code to be reviewed, as well as new measures to stamp out things like retrospective discounting and ‘pay to stay’.John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: “When the public think of their favourite brands, they are unlikely to connect them with the sort of immoral payment practices that are becoming all too common across an increasing number of industries. However, it is clear that whenever these examples come to light, the public shares the same sense of moral outrage as the small firms that have to put up with them on a daily basis.“The government has indicated that they are prepared to do more to improve the culture of payment practices in the UK and they are right to do so.”last_img read more

Pukka unveils its first vegan pies

first_imgPukka has rolled out its first-ever vegan pies.The new pies – Vegan Chicken & Mushroom and Vegan Minced Steak & Onion – see two of Pukka’s bestsellers get a meat-free makeover.The former sees chicken replaced with soy protein pieces and encased in the brand’s signature puff pastry along with a savoury vegan creamy sauce. The Vegan Minced Steak & Onion also uses soy protein as a meat alternative paired with chopped onions and gravy.Both are approved by the Vegetarian Society and feature its vegan trademark on the front of pack. The packaging is recyclable and plastic-free – Pukka rolled it out across its portfolio earlier this year.They will be available in Morrisons from 16 September and Sainsbury’s from 23 September with an rsp of £1.89. Other supermarket listings will follow later in the year.“Our new recipes are part of an ongoing investment to help put more pies on more plates more often and as the People’s Pie, we want to make sure there’s a Pukka for everyone,” said Pukka head of marketing Rachel Cranston.She noted research that found 55% of shoppers are actively reducing their meat intake while the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 305% in the last year.“This demonstrates there’s a real opportunity to offer shoppers vegan alternatives to two of our most popular pie recipes which don’t compromise on taste, and we’re confident that retailers will benefit from incremental sales by stocking our new range,” she added.Following the launch, Pukka is also returning to TV screens with its multichannel campaign ‘The People’s Pie’ in autumn.last_img read more

Pretty Lights Washes Away 2016 With Stellar New Year’s Eve Celebration

first_imgDerek Vincent Smith, otherwise known as Pretty Lights illuminated New Orleans in an epic, highly anticipated two-day New Year’s Eve event. Held at the Mardi Gras World Ballroom, Smith was joined by live band mates Chris Karns (turntablist), Borahm Lee (keyboardist), Alvin Ford Jr. (drums), and famed lighting designer Greg Ellis (TheLazerShark). The event also featured acts such as Curren$y & The Soul Rebels, Manic Focus, Emancipator, Maddy O’Neal, and an exclusive Chris Karns set.Pretty Lights has one of the largest followings in the electronic music scene. Fans, who refer to themselves as “The Pretty Lights Family,” or “PLF”, have traveled far and wide to attend Smith’s episodic tour that took place in the late summer and early fall of 2016. The intense passion shared amongst PLF drives fans to great lengths in order to witness the spectacle that is the Pretty Lights Live experience. New Year’s Eve was no exception to this as fans from across the country gathered in NOLA for the event, filling the Mardi Gras Ballroom to the brim. Fans were undoubtedly anticipating a spectacular production, but were awed as their expectations were surpassed by a milestone.The event offered two ticket options, general admission and VIP, referred to as the “PLF” pass. The venue was enough to amaze concert goers, however those with PLF passes were given an experience like no other. PLF passes included access to the so called “Pretty Lights Mansion,” that featured an open bar and exclusive sets. The Mansion was beautifully styled and fit to the New Orleans aesthetic. Upon entering, crowd goers were presented with mirror-decked hallways and white-washed pillars. These vintage style hallways led to an outside area shrouded by a dome cover, designed to mimic the deepest and clearest starry night sky. The heavenly aesthetic of the dome included bubbling ponds with lily pads, trees laced with Spanish moss, cobble stone pathways, and old-style shacks for fans to rest and have a drink. With outgoing staff members, merchandise pick up, and exclusive sets, those with access to the Mansion were given the royal treatment. Although the Mansion was a spectacular addition to the event, everyone in attendance was graced with an unprecedented production entirely unique to the Pretty Lights Live Experience.Ellis, “TheLazerShark”, famous for his unique lighting design and ephemeral touch to stage production, graced The Ballroom with a five-dimensional visual experience. With the integration of advanced physics, the Pretty Lights Team exceeded traditional 3-D visuals through the use of holograms, sublime strobe lights, and crystal induced diffraction, the stage production transcended beyond audio-visual comprehension. PL live events are notoriously equipped with Ellis’s “Lazer Cage”, a series of horizontal laser beams that create a glowing illusion of a cage around the stage. Production took the famed laser cage to new heights with a feature that has yet to be used in any PL event, a waterfall that flowed gracefully in front of the stage. This waterfall expanded to nearly 6 stories and bubbled down in an ephemeral mist adding a multi-dimensional visual experience.The allure of the Pretty Lights live experience is marked by its mystery and the tracks that will be played. Fans debate over upcoming setlists, and requests are posted online in hopes of receiving the gift of a rare song. Many music artists have a rolodex of tracks that get recycled throughout various shows, however Smith has a completely different method. As he insists he is not a DJ, Smith puts his skills to test with the help of his bandmates. With each set being so different, fans rejoice with each song that is played for it is is rare and its renditions can only be heard in a live setting.Night one was fit to tease the crowd, including both tracks that are trademark to a PL set and those that are rarely heard as well. As many tracks surfaced and teased fans, the production induced such visual stimulation to take center stage. PL played many of his trademark tracks such as “Out of Time” and “Done Wrong”, while also teasing rare tracks throughout.New Year’s Eve was charged with the yearn to leave 2016 behind and enter the new year. A new energy was amongst the crowd and the basis of family was evident. As the ballroom was decked with glitter and fluorescent sequins, the crowd came together to fill the air with love. The end of 2016 reared its head as Smith filled the room with energy. Throughout rarely played tracks such as “Country Roads”, and “After Midnight”, Smith took to the mic to proclaim “We are in 2016 about to move into 2017, we are trying to charge you up, charge ourselves up, we are trying to get by.” This proclamation along with the ephemeral rain wall charged the room with a unique energy, this energy was pulsating with static love. On the cusp of midnight, Smith paused a heavy jam of “I Can See It in Your Face” to begin the final countdown into 2017. While the crowd anxiously belted the countdown, the seconds leading into 2017 were gloriously relieving. As the clock struck midnight, balloons fluttered from the sealing while misty cannons blared in rejoice. The Pretty Lights Family shared love to everyone, exchanging hugs and kisses to all those around. PL rang in the new year with a jam of “Future Gospel” led by Lee’s progressive synthesis as the rain wall washed away the negativity of 2016. The set came to a close as “Finally Moving” came on, a PL staple laced with soulful violin. Smith took moments to allow the crowd to belt the famous lyrics and as rain poured down the room was filled with bliss. The set ended with a bolting rendition of “I Know the Truth” and the crowd was wild with excitement.Moments of question passed, and as the crowd grew doubtful, Smith and his bandmates took back the stage for a high energy encore. Tracks such as “My Only Hope” were laid down in addition to rare renditions of Nirvana, “Anytime (Love You Left Behind)”, “Cream State of Mind”, and finally “Yellow Bird.” Ending his finale with “Yellow Bird” set the tone for the rest of the evening; fans were filled with the glowing warmth of love as hugs were exchanged in the midst of delightful sways.As the night came to a close, the crowd exited the venue and into a heavy monsoon. The Mississippi river was boiling as a deep fog began to surface. Crowd goers danced in the rain, while some ran for cover. Regardless of action, Pretty Lights continued to wash away troubles as the sky released its own waterfall.Pretty Lights 12/30/16: New Episodic Jam 1, Out of Time, Easy Way Out, transitioned into Gotta Stay Fly (Jim Jones), Laser Rain Put Me Up, Where I’m Trying to Go, A Million Tomorrows, Hot Like Dimes, Drift Away, Freestlye, Make You Feel, There is a Light, Fly Like an Eagle, More Important Than Michael Jordan (MITMJ), Only Yesterday, We Must Go On, If I Could Feel Again, More Important Than Michael Jordan (tease), Done WrongPretty Lights 12/31/16: One Day They’ll Know (Odesza Remix), Country Roads, Time (Remix), Prelude 3 into Freestyle, Total Fascination, Hot Like Sauce (Rustified Remix), I Can See It in Your Face, Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1., Prelude 4 into Wayfaring Strangers, Ladies of the Canyon Sample, Solar Sailor into I Got 5 On it, After Midnight, Low Orbit, Wisdom of Antiquity, Brain Reaction (Teaser), Color of My Soul (Paul Basic Remix), Solamente, Freestyle into Maybe Tomorrow, King of Rock, Rush Jam, Future Gospel, Understand Me Now, Looking for Love (but not so sure), Prophet & Culprate, Hip Hop Hooray (SuperVision), Finally Moving (Slow), I know the truth (Closer)[Photos by Djivan Schapira] Load remaining imageslast_img read more

The New Mastersounds Announce 2018 New Year’s Eve Show

first_imgWith only two dates on their calendar this fall, the New Mastersounds have announced plans for their 2018 New Year’s Eve. The New Mastersounds will ring in the New Year on December 31st, 2018, at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. Starting today, there will be an exclusive presale for NOLAFUNK subscribers, with a presale for CEG Presents subscribers on Wednesday, August 22nd, at 12 p.m. (ET). Fans can sign up for the CEG and Nolafunk email list at www.cegpresents.com and www.nolafunk.com for exclusive access to the pre-sale. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 24th at 12 p.m. (ET).The New Mastersounds will play two U.K. shows, September 21st at Leeds’ The Domino Club, and September 22nd at London’s Jazz Cafe. The New Mastersounds only other plans as of now is an appearance at moe.’s Tropical Throe.Down in picturesque Runaway Bay, Jamaica.For information on upcoming shows and ticketing information, head to the band’s website.last_img read more

Relix Announces Third-Annual Live Music Conference

first_imgRelix has announced their third annual Live Music Conference, set to take place on Tuesday, May 14th, and Wednesday, May 15th at the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, New York. The two-day event will bring the leading figures in today’s industry together to shed light on the fast-paced and ever-changing live music business. The Relix Live Music Conference will feature panels and discussions covering subjects related to venues, festivals, publicity and management, and presentations on technology and non-profits. The conference will serve as the coming-together of all the pieces and people that help bring a live show to life, while also providing opportunities for networking, discussion and education. Last year, Relix Live Music Conference speakers and presenters included Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, Blue Note Records head Don Was, The Bowery Presents’ Johnny Beach, YouTube’s Ted Kartzman, Atlantic Records’ Nick Harvey, Live for Live Music’s own Kunj Shah, and many more. Representatives from Live Nation, AEG Presents, Superfly, Red Light Management, Atlantic Records, Ben & Jerry’s, HeadCount, nugs.net and, of course, Relix were among the 2018 event’s speakers.Tickets for the two-day event go on sale this Friday, January 11th at 11 a.m. (EST) here.last_img read more

A Pharma Payment A Day Keeps Docs’ Finances Okay

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.This story has been updated.Few days went by last year when New Hampshire nephrologist Ana Stankovic didn’t receive a payment from a drug company.What the New ‘Collaborative Media’ Can MeanOur Dollars for Docs Database Search through nearly 15 million records to see if your doctor has received money from a drug or device company. Search for your physician.All told, 29 different pharmaceutical companies paid her $594,363 in 2014, mostly for promotional speaking and consulting, but also for travel expenses and meals, according to data released Tuesday detailing payments by drug and device companies to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals. (You can search for your doctor on ProPublica’s updated Dollars for Docs interactive database.)Stankovic’s earnings were certainly high, ranking her about 250th among 606,000 doctors who received payments nationwide last year. What was more remarkable, though, was that she received payments on 242 different days — nearly every workday of last year.Reached by telephone Tuesday, Stankovic declined to comment. On her LinkedIn page, Stankovic lists herself as vice chief of staff at Parkland Medical Center HCA Inc. in Derry, New Hampshire, and as medical director of peritoneal dialysis at DaVita Inc., also in Derry.That doctors receive big money from the pharmaceutical industry is no surprise. The new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that such interactions are widespread, with not only doctors, but thousands of dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors receiving at least one industry payment from August 2013 to December 2014.What is being seen for the first time now is how ingrained pharmaceutical companies and their sales reps are in the lives of those who write prescriptions for their products. A ProPublica analysis found that 768 doctors received payments on more than half of the days in 2014. More than 14,600 doctors received payments on at least 100 days in 2014.Take Juichih Hsu, a Maryland doctor whose specialty is family medicine. She received payments on 286 days of 365, more than anyone else. Sometimes, she received meals from several drug companies on the same day. Hsu’s payments totaled $5,959 in 2014. She declined to comment when reached on Tuesday.“There are physician practices which have very deep relationships with pharmaceutical representatives, where they are a very integral part of the practice,” said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who has written about industry relationships with doctors. “Every day it’s another drug company coming in for a lunch. Sometimes it may be some drug companies are bringing breakfast and some are bringing lunch and it’s just part of the culture of the practice.”Sometimes there may be more at work than that.Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesGraphic by: Cecilia Reyes/ProPublicaThe doctor with the second-highest number of interactions with drug and device reps, John Fritz, of Jersey City, N.J., logged payments on 256 days last year. His payments totaled $232,003. Fritz was indicted in June for referring patients to a medical imaging company from 2006 to 2013 in exchange for about $500,000 in kickbacks. He was charged with fraud and bribery, according to a release from the state attorney general’s office. A woman who answered the phone at his office on Tuesday said he declined to comment.Kesselheim said that to have such extensive contact with industry reps can indicate that doctors are getting their information about the drugs they prescribe from the companies that make them, and not from impartial sources. “There’s good evidence that that affects prescribing practices and physician behavior.”The drugs for which Stankovic received the most money to promote are costly. One, H.P. Acthar Gel, cost an average of nearly $39,000 a prescription, Medicare data from 2013 shows, and experts say there’s little evidence it works better than less expensive drugs. Another drug, Soliris, for which Stankovic received promotional payments is among the most expensive drugs in the world but is considered highly effective in treating serious kidney disease.ProPublica’s analysis turned up big differences in the number of industry interactions among physicians in different specialties. On average, doctors who received payments interacted with drug and device companies on 14 days last year, receiving an average of $3,325 in total.The nation’s 3,900 rheumatologists in the data averaged 40 days of interactions with drug and device companies, more than doctors in any other large specialty. They were followed closely by endocrinologists, electrophysiologists and interventional cardiologists. On the other end of the spectrum, dentists, chiropractors, neonatologists and pathologists had among the fewest interactions with drug and device makers.Some of the doctors who had the highest number of interactions were those ProPublica has previously identified as having high rates of brand-name prescribing in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D. Others have been mentioned in previous ProPublica stories about doctors who have received large payments from the drug industry. A number of experts, including Kesselheim, note that payments from industry may influence physicians’ choice of drugs.A spokeswoman for the pharmaceutical industry said in a statement that company interactions with doctors are important.“Collaboration between physicians and biopharmaceutical professionals is critical to improving the health and quality of life of patients,” the statement from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said. “Clinical trials sponsored by biopharmaceutical companies have led to life-saving breakthroughs for people suffering from cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Physicians also provide real-world insights and valuable feedback to companies about their medicines to improve patient care. Educating the public about the nature of these collaborations helps patients understand in which ways these interactions can improve both their health and medical innovation.”ProPublica has been tracking industry payments to doctors since 2010. Our Dollars for Docs interactive database allowed people to search payments made by 17 companies between 2009 and 2013. Most of those companies were required to report their payments as a condition of legal settlements with the federal government.The data released Tuesday radically expands the amount of data available to patients — and ProPublica has overhauled Dollars for Docs to include these payments. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, mandated that all drug and device companies publicly report payments to doctors. The transparency effort is called Open Payments.The government initially released some data last fall, covering the period of August to December 2013, but it was significantly redacted because of data inconsistencies. The data released Tuesday covers the period of August 2013 to December 2014. The data inconsistencies have been resolved.All told, 1,617 companies reported 15.7 million payments valued at $9.9 billion. Nearly all of those payments — 14.9 million — were classified as “general payments,” covering promotional speaking, consulting, meals, travel and royalties. They totaled $3.5 billion over the 17-month period.Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesGraphic by: Cecilia Reyes/ProPublicaCorrection, July 2, 2015: This graphic included incorrect numbers for “Gift” and “Nonaccredited Training.” They have been corrected.There were far fewer research payments, 826,000, but they were valued at $4.8 billion. The remaining payments related to ownership or investment interests that doctors had in companies. Research and ownership payments are currently not shown in Dollars for Docs.Open Payments does not include money spent on drug samples left at doctors’ offices and doesn’t include the bulk of the money companies spend on independently administered continuing medical education, which they support with unrestricted grants. The government has tightened the rules for reporting such continuing education in the future.From August 2013 to December 2014, Genentech Inc. spent the most on general payments, $387.7 million, mostly royalties for its drugs Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin to City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. That was four times more than the second-ranked company, DePuy Synthes Products LLC, which spent $94.7 million, nearly all on royalties. Topera Inc., a small medical device company, came in third, with $93.1 million, almost exclusively acquisition payments to its physician founders from device maker Abbott Laboratories.Among other pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca spent the most on general payments ($90.9 million), followed by Pfizer ($82.1 million) and Allergan ($70.7 million). In a statement, AstraZeneca said that it believes “it is important to be open about the way we conduct our business and how we help people through our medicines and programs. We are committed to the highest standards of conduct in all of our operations, including how we partner with physicians and medical institutions.”Royalty fees, though few in number, accounted for $803.5 million in general payment spending in 2014, more than any other category. They were followed by promotional speaking ($632.4 million) and consulting ($369.4 million). Food and beverages accounted for the highest number of payments by far, 9.4 million, but these had a relatively low value of $224.5 million.ProPublica news application developers Mike Tigas and Lena Groeger and senior reporting fellow Annie Waldman contributed to this report.Update, July 8, 2015: Although Stankovic declined to comment for the initial story, she has now provided the following statement: “I am very passionate about clinical research and up to date medical information; and truly enjoy educating medical professionals on various complicated disease states. There is so much new information to be learned every day in medicine, but simply there is no enough time during the day, especially if provider has a busy medical practice. Many of the interactions that doctors have with pharmaceutical industry are needed in order to stay current with newer FDA approved therapies that may cure illnesses or slow progression of the complicated diseases. Patients should be able to appreciate those medical professionals who can thoroughly discuss all available treatment options on the market and warn them about possible side effects and contraindications.”Correction, July 2, 2015: This post has been corrected to change the average amount doctors received in payments in 2014. The graphic has also been corrected.Check Dollars for Docs to see whether your doctor has received payments from drug or medical device companies. Email us at [email protected] and tell us what you find.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more