Open Payments glitches limit submissions

Open Payments
Open Payments

CMS officials said technical glitches in the Open Payments system are preventing some manufacturers from submitting records about their financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals.


In a public call on Tuesday between manufacturers and CMS officials, which at times got heated as companies raised questions about issues with the system, agency officials described two problems: the final submit button that allows manufacturers to enter a record doesn't always work, and the system has rejected the submissions of some records based on certain physicians' National Provider Identifiers. Both issues are expected to be resolved on Friday.


Open Payments is a new program that requires medical device and drug companies to disclose information about financial relationships and other “transfers of value” between industry and healthcare providers. It's a requirement of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The data is publicly available on the Open Payments website, which launched in September 2014 with five months of data collected in 2013.


The deadline for 2014 data is the end of the month. That information is scheduled to be published in June of this year.  


“CMS is aware of a small number of data submissions that are entered in a specific entry field that is affecting a limited number of manufacturers and group purchasing organizations,” a CMS spokesman said in a statement. “We are evaluating each reported occurrence and will offer a resolution soon that helps them complete their Open Payments data submission with no impact to the March 31 deadline.”


CMS officials also said the website will be updated this week with additional information describing how manufacturers can complete records submissions despite some of the bugs in the Open Payments system. The site in the past has faced other technical problems, notably having to be taken offline one month before the launch due to system glitches.


The Open Payments site currently provides information about 4.45 million records describing $3.7 billion in transfers of value made by about 1,300 manufacturers, according to the most recent summary provided by the CMS in December.


About 366,000 physicians and 900 teaching hospitals received those payments and other types of transfers of value, including travel, meals and gifts. The CMS breaks payments into two categories: general payments that include consulting and speaking fees, and research payments that apply to clinical research programs.