Greater Transparency in Healthcare
In early February, the Centers for Medicare and Medical Services (CMS) announced a final rule necessary to implement requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act Sunshine Rule that will increase public disclosure of financial relationships between drug/device manufacturers, and physicians and teaching hospitals. This step, The National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments, is one of the many in the Affordable Care Act designed to create greater transparency in the healthcare market, and is intended to help reduce the potential for conflicts of interest that physicians might face as a result of their manufacturer relationships.
To give manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations (GPOs) sufficient time to prepare, data collection will begin Aug. 1, 2013, and applicable manufacturers and GPOs will report the data for August through December 2013 to CMS by March 31, 2014. The data will be released publicly on Sept. 30, 2014, through an electronic reporting system.
“You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need,” stated Peter Budetti, M.D., CMS deputy administrator for program integrity. Support for the law was voiced by vendors in a statement released from the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), an industry group of medical imaging equipment, radiation therapy and radiopharmaceutical manufacturers and product developers. “MITA and our member companies have long supported the Sunshine Act and commend CMS for issuing the final regulations,” MITA stated in a press release. “We appreciate that CMS has given device manufacturers 180 days after publication to implement the final regulations, so that our members have sufficient time to successfully implement the law.”
While the disclosures now required in the Sunshine Act are already in place for some specialties, it will be a major change in practice for others. In a recent study by global technology security company MMIS of more than 1,000 doctors and their knowledge of the Sunshine Act, the survey revealed that more than half did not know that the law requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to report on expenditures annually, and that this information would be available to the public on a searchable database. The survey also found that 21 percent of physicians would sever their relationship with a manufacturer that reported inaccurate information about payments or transfers of value if disclosed to the public, and 43 percent admitted this would affect their ongoing relationships.
“There are approximately 3,000 manufacturers of drugs and devices providing valuable education and resources to physicians that enhance patient care. Increasing transparency of the relationship between industry and our healthcare providers will undoubtedly encourage scrutiny by the public, physician peers and their institutions,” said Michaeline Daboul, MMIS CEO.
As healthcare moves forward, and becomes more transparent, it will be up to all physicians and those in medical care to keep the patient informed, and avoid all conflicts of interest that could affect treatment decisions.
The final rule can be downloaded at: www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.