News Feature | August 12, 2013

OPEN PAYMENTS Program Worrying Physicians

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Greg Bengel

By Greg Bengel, contributing writer

Doctor With Phone

Physician concern about accuracy of manufacturer reporting leads to CMS creation of app designed to help ensure information made public is accurate

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s OPEN PAYMENTS program (aka the Physician Payments Sunshine Act), CMS will soon be posting physicians’ financial ties to the industry online. Drug and device makers will soon quantify their transfers of value to physicians – data which must be forwarded to CMS by March 31, 2014 and published on a public website by September 30, 2014.  This is all done as part of OPEN PAYMENTS’s commitment to creating public transparency and Health IT Outcomes detailed some of the benefits providers can expect.

It’s been noted, however, that not all providers are excited that exactly what – and how much – drug and device manufacturers, teaching hospitals, and other healthcare businesses give to them will soon be available for the world to see. It’s a prospect that worries many physicians, according to Medscape Today News (login required). According to the article, the chief concern is the numbers that manufacturers will report to CMS will be inaccurate.

To address these concerns, CMS recently released two free mobile apps for physicians and other members of the healthcare industry (one app designed for each). The apps – called Open Payments for Physicians -- are designed for the tracking of transfers of value in the industry. According to the Medscape Today News article, “Physicians are not required to report the receipt of cash, meals, and other forms of industry largesse to CMS, but by voluntarily entering this data in the app, they will be in a better position to double-check industry figures.”

Significantly, CMS reports in a press release that “Financial data loaded into the apps does not interact with CMS systems and cannot be used for direct data reporting to CMS or its contractors.  In addition, CMS will not validate the accuracy of data stored in the apps, nor will it be responsible for protecting data stored in the apps.” The apps, then, are only meant to help providers keep their own records more accurately.

Read this post on The CMS Blog by Dr. Peter Budetti, Deputy Administrator for Program Integrity of CMS, for more information on the apps, including a couple hypothetical examples of how the apps could be utilized by providers.