The government announced on Monday that the Medicare claims database will be opened for use by employers, consumer groups, insurance companies and others for various purposes including the creation of report cards on doctors and hospitals. By using off the shef data mining tools, which are inexpensive and easy to use, the masses of billing can be used to glean critical information, for example, on how often a doctor has performed a particular procedure and also to get a sense of problems including preventable complications. The information will be compiled in an easily undertood format and release to anyone who asks for it. It is expected to increase the quality of medical care. Performance reports on physicians are expected as early as 2012. With 47 million beneficiaries, virtually every doctor and hospital in the country is participating. There may be other uses for the data as well, for tracking new therpeutics and secondary benefits to drugs.