In 2002, sales of licenses to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Physician Masterfile generated $20 million in revenue for the organization. By 2007, sales of the AMA Physician Masterfile had reached $40 million per year.

“As a physician, I have no knowledge or control over data about me that is sold in the AMA Physician Masterfile,” said Michael Mendoza, MD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago in Illinois.

What is the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile database? And why is it so profitable for the AMA?

The American Medical Association (AMA), founded in 1847 and incorporated 1897, is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. Throughout its history, the AMA has been actively involved in a variety of medical policy issues, from Medicare and HMOs to public health, and climate change.

The American Medical Association closely tracks the activities of physicians from medical school to death. In its Physician Masterfile, the AMA merges all of the information it has ever collected about physicians and the medical care they provide. The AMA began compiling physician data in 1906—the Physician Masterfile is now more than a century old and includes records for approximately 900,000 physicians, about two thirds of whom are not AMA members. Physician records are never removed from the AMA Physician Masterfile, even in the case of a physician’s death.

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