In September 2014, new information about physicians will be available to the public as part of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, but you should start preparing now. Physicians can take action to stay informed about what will be reported, when it will be reported and, most importantly, how to review the data before it is made available to the public.
What is the Physician Payments Sunshine Act?
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act is a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies to publicly report data and transfers of value paid or given to physicians and teaching hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) runs this program, also referred to as the Open Payments program. CMS is in charge of collecting the data and publishing the public website.
This information will be released to the public and to the media via an online database known as the Open Payments database in September 2014. By preparing now, you will be able to confidently discuss your interactions and the benefits they bring to your patients.
How Will the Act Affect You?
For many years, patients have been able to look up consumer ratings of their physician online. Through the Sunshine Act, patients will have access to even more information about their doctor, including his or her interactions with companies.
It is imperative that patients and members of the media understand that physician work with industry professionals to improve patient care. Physicians collaborate with companies on research and clinical trials to provide feedback on new medicines or develop new surgical tools, and to allow companies to talk with leading experts in the field about new developments. You may be asked about these interactions by a patient, and it’s important to be prepared to respond.
Review Data Reported About You
By August 1, 2014, CMS will open registration for physicians and teaching hospitals. Physicians must register with the Open Payments database in order to review any data that is reported about them before it is available to the public. If physicians believe that data is inaccurate, they will be able to work with companies to correct it.
Due to delays from CMS, physicians have a smaller than anticipated window to register, review and correct data. It is imperative that physicians stay up-to-date so they are aware of when registration opens. A coalition called Partners for Healthy Dialogues is working to help educate physicians about this.
What is Being Reported?
Any payment or transfer of value from a manufacturer operating in the U.S. to a physician must be reported as part of the Sunshine Act, unless the payment falls into a category that is exempt from reporting. Even if the physician did not request the payment, or the payment has no value to the physician but might be of value to someone else, it must be reported.
Items that should be reported include, but are not limited to:
-Food & beverage
-Travel & lodging
Drug samples/coupons/vouchers intended for patient use, grants to a CME provider and patient education materials are some of the items that do not need to be reported.
Last fall, members of Congress and dozens of professional societies submitted letters to CMS expressing concern over medical journals and textbooks being reported under the Sunshine Act. In February, CMS clarified that these items must be reported.
Value of Interactions
Relationships and collaborations between physicians and companies benefit patient care and help to create and improve therapies. But some news reporting has overlooked this value, focusing instead on the dollar amounts involved, and insinuating that these relationships are untoward. In addition to being inaccurate, such reporting is detrimental to future research, medical innovations and reputations of dedicated physicians.
In addition to seeing patients and performing surgeries, physicians spend countless hours keeping up with the latest innovations and treatment options. Interactions, in part, provide an important environment in which physicians learn from their peers about how different therapies are working in the clinical environment, and give physicians the ability to provide important feedback to manufacturers that helps improve therapies.
About Partners for Healthy Dialogues
As the Physician Payments Sunshine Act continues to be implemented throughout the remainder of 2014, Partners for Healthy Dialogues was founded in order to provide information and updates to patients, healthcare professionals, physicians and biopharmaceutical and med-tech professionals.
Partners for Healthy Dialogues is a collaboration between healthcare provider groups and biopharmaceutical and medical technology organizations, committed to demonstrating the value of interactions between physicians and biopharmaceutical and med-tech companies, to ensure better patient care and advance medical innovation.
Current healthcare collaborators include: American Academy of Dermatology, Advanced Medical Technology Association, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Osteopathic Association, American Urological Association, Association of Black Cardiologists, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and The Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers.