Good day, Sunshine: Tools help docs track payments

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Good day, Sunshine: Tools help docs track payments
Good day, Sunshine: Tools help docs track payments

A new era of transparency for doctors and life science manufacturers kicks off today as the reporting requirements of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act officially begin. The Act requires drug, device and biologic manufacturers to report certain items and payments given to physicians and teaching hospitals. The majority of this information will be contained in reports that will eventually be made available to the public.

Education around the law has been ongoing, but with reporting of such things as speaking fees and meals now underway, a number of organizations—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) included—are seeking to help physicians stay up-to-speed with the requirements.

Since drug and device makers are not required under law to provide ongoing notice to physicians about what they will be reporting to CMS, the American Medical Association (AMA) has encouraged physicians to catalogue some of their own expenses in a bid to reduce future disputes.

In a recent blog post, AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, noted that physicians should still “request ongoing notification from your industry contacts regarding the data they report to CMS. Ask your representatives at the manufacturers and group purchasing organizations with which you interact to give you an opportunity to review and correct information they intend to submit to CMS.”

Physicians will have at least 45 days to dispute transactions with CMS and industry organizations before they are made public.

That dialogue should prove easier as CMS rolled out a mobile app (pictured) to help physicians record their interactions in July.

The app, titled “Open Payments Mobile for Physicians,” is aimed to help physicians track their payments and financial transfers—even though the onus is on manufacturers, not physicians, to report these transactions—as well as transfer user profile and high-level information associated with the event or situation in which “transfer of value” took place and store their personal contact information.

CMS Program Integrity Director Dr. Peter Budetti stated in the release: “[our] foray into mobile technology is about providing a user-friendly tools for doctors, manufacturers and others in the health care industry to use in working with us to implement the law in a smart way. These two apps are an innovation option for doctors and industry..” CMS was unable to respond to comments on whether these apps would ever receive additional functionality or if industry versions would eventually ever interact with CMS systems.

The agency isn't alone in trying to spread awareness with these new guidelines. The AMA has a “Physician Sunshine Act Tool Kit,” a free resource to help physicians stay in the know. The kit includes a FAQ, important dates to remember, and a free webinar as well as information on how to dispute information.  

The AMA also invited CMS to an AMA-convened meeting to have the organization inform members and physician organizations first-hand. Others efforts by AMA include a communications plan in physician publications as well as hosting education sessions at annual AMA-hosted meetings.

The next significant dates for the law are January 2014, when CMS is due to give physicians access to the prior calendar year's disclosures for review, and September 2014, when the agency is set to release this data to the public. 

For those looking for guidance on Sunshine-exempt CME activities, the CME Coalition has developed a guidebook on how to successfully participate and plan CME events "without the burdens or penalties that are applicable to non-accredited activities," Andrew Rosenberg, a senior advisor for group, stated in a release yesterday.

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