The future is unclear for the Open Payments program. Because it was implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the possibility of changes or even complete repeal of the Sunshine Act is becoming more real, causing questions to arise about what will happen to the program in the near future.
This program, known formally as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, was designed to create transparency on the issue of gifts provided to physicians and those in the healthcare industry. The resulting data has shown that when physicians are provided with gifts from a particular manufacturer or company, they will more often prescribe that product to patients, which comes as evidence of conflicts of interest. According to a 2011 study, "the finding that most current members of guideline panels and half of chairs of panels have [conflicts of interest] is concerning and suggests that a risk of considerable influence of industry on guideline recommendations exists." In the end, the law was implemented in order to promote accountability.
The challenge in the meantime for those within the healthcare industry has been in doing the work of tracking and reporting these expenses. Since its enactment in 2013, more than 812,000 physicians provided more than 28 million records worth $16.5 billion dollars. That’s a lot of tracking!
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Our perspective on the issue is that the Sunshine Act might be done away with in one swoop alongside the ACA, but there will always be a need for tracking these kinds of payments. Now that those in the healthcare industry have done the work of complying with the Sunshine Act, we believe that it's still a good idea to maintain that system to keep tracking these payments even without the legislation in place. Not only does continuing to track support analysis of the effectiveness of pharmaceutical marketing, but transparency can be an important component of maintaining trust and gaining credibility with patients.
Our solutions suite simplifies tracking and reporting of costs of all kinds, including marketing costs. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this issue because it affects the way some of our clients do business. Look for us to post updates on our blog as they arise. Having a provider with an ear to the ground on this topic does part of the work for you.
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