After 100 Days of Sunshine – Storm Clouds Are BrewingIt’s been 100 days and counting since the Sunshine Act took effect with the stated intention of reducing federal healthcare spending. By requiring transactions of value between manufacturers and physicians to be tracked and published, the CMS sought to reduce possible conflicts of interest, which they believed were raising healthcare costs.
However, public disclosure of personal information has raised a number of concerns among healthcare professionals, specifically reputation damage from inaccurate or misleading information. This is a valid concern considering a May 2013 report from the Office of the Inspector General citing ongoing problems with the CMS’s oversight of provider information. In the study, 48% of NPPES records were found to be inaccurate or incomplete – mostly misspellings or wrongly reported/dated information due to a name change or new location.
With these recent statistics, it’s no wonder physicians are concerned that this information could be inaccurate or viewed in a negative light. In addition to the possibility of inaccurate information, all reported payments are lumped together and lack context so a person viewing this information could easily misinterpret the disclosed transactions.
This is leading to two unintended consequences of the Sunshine Act:
Stifling of Education and Innovation – Doctors are becoming more hesitant to attend educational events or collaborate on projects sponsored by pharmaceutical companies for fear that their participation could damage their reputation.
Reduction of Rep Visits – Increased administrative burden and fear of reputation damage has led to doctors reducing or banning visits from rep all together.
In response, the AMA has provided a Toolkit for Physician Financial Transparency Reports to address physicians’ questions and help them prepare for their 2013 financial data before it is published online next year. The toolkit is designed to help physicians spot inconsistencies and rectify the transaction before it goes public.
While it’s still too early to tell if the Sunshine Act can reduce healthcare costs, the stakes are high for pharmaceutical companies. It’s crucial they build trust and foster the physician-rep relationship by demonstrating that they have measures in place to ensure that their reporting is accurate and compliant including:
- Engaging a specialized Life Sciences CRM partner that understands the complexities of the laws and provides the technical infrastructure to navigate potential regulatory landmines
- Updating poorly designed or inflexible software that is difficult to use and a challenge to access and update data
- Eliminating multiple data entry points with a central repository for all customer activities and expenses
- Providing ongoing field training on data management and reporting best practices
The true litmus test of a company’s ability to accurately manage and report data will come in January 2014 when the CMS is expected to allow physicians to review their consolidated report and contact the manufacturers to dispute the accuracy of their report.