Physician Sunshine Act Reviews Need to Be Done Soon

The deadline for reviewing records and reporting compliance with the Sunshine Act is Aug. 27. There are several tools to make that task easier for physicians.

According to the American Medical Association, there are three important steps that physicians should take in 2014 to comply with the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

• Make sure the CMS e-verification process is complete.

• Confirm registration with CMS' open payment system.

• Data review and disputes need to be completed by August 27, 2014.

But the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act) only applies to drug companies, medical device manufacturers and biologic companies - right? No. The other side of the equation relates to physicians. First, companies submit reports containing data relating to ownership, transfers, certain payments, and items of value. The implementation of the Sunshine Act is conducted by CMS.

"Manufacturers are required to collect and track payment, transfer, and ownership information as of Aug. 1, 2013. Manufacturers will submit the reports on an annual basis. In addition, manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) must report certain ownership interests held by physicians and their immediate family members."

Once manufacturers have posted data, physicians have a narrow window to review the items for accuracy and dispute any items. For 2014, the date is Aug. 27.

The AMA's position is to promote transparency while tempering the amount of administrative work. (H-140.848 Physician Payments Sunshine Act; see Additional AMA Policy). On Aug. 5, 2014, the AMA sent a letter to CMS urging significant changes. In order to assist physicians with their role and provide suggestions on how to minimize review time, the AMA provides a toolkit. Of the many suggestions, here are some key ones:

• Update your info. Update your professional information and ensure your specialty is designated correctly. Physicians who have a National Provider Identifier (NPI) should verify the information in the NPI enumerator database is current and update it as needed. This information - among other unique identifiers - will be used by industry to confirm they have identified you accurately.

• Understand reportable transfers. Learn what financial transfers and ownership interests must be reported by drug and device manufacturers and group purchase organizations. Understand what exemptions apply and when indirect transfers (i.e., those not made directly to a physician) are reportable.

• Get the OPEN PAYMENTS Mobile for Physicians app. This free app allows you to capture and confidentially collect information on reportable transfers between you and industry representatives so you can challenge any inaccurate information reported by industry to the government. Download the OPEN PAYMENTS Mobile for Physicians app on your Apple™ or Android™ device.

With approximately two weeks left, physicians should set aside time to review the reports submitted by manufacturers.