CMS Releases Data on Financial Relationships Between Healthcare Industry, Doctors, Teaching Hospitals

Designed to help consumers understand the financial relationships between healthcare industry officials, physicians and teaching hospitals, and promote transparency and accountability, CMS has released the first round of Open Payments.

The program, created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), lists consulting fees, research grants, travel reimbursements and other gifts, the healthcare industry, including medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, provided to physicians and teaching hospitals during the last five months of 2013.

The data contains 4.4 million payments valued at nearly $3.5 billion attributable to 546,000 individual physicians and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals. Future reports will be published annually and will include a full 12 months of payment data, beginning in June 2015.

More than 26,000 physicians and 400 teaching hospitals registered in the Open Payments system to review payments attributed to them. During the review and dispute period, CMS identified payment records that had inconsistent physician information, such as National Provider Identifier (NPI) for one doctor and a license number for another. In cases where CMS was unable to match the physician information or the record was not available for review and dispute but the company had attested that the payment had been made, the personally-identifiable information has been suppressed temporarily in the record.

About 40 percent of the records published today are de-identified. This data will be fully identifiable in 2015 after the reporting entity submits corrected data, and physicians and teaching hospitals have a chance to review and dispute. In addition, data that were disputed and not resolved by the end of the September 11 review period have not been published and will be updated at a later date.

Manufacturers submitted data to CMS this summer and CMS performed initial matching to aggregate payments to a single physician or teaching hospital. After the data were collected and displayed, registered physicians and teaching hospitals had the opportunity to review payments reported about them and dispute information they believed inaccurate.

CMS officials stress that Open Payments does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial and which could cause conflicts of interest. It simply makes the data available to the public. So while the data could discourage payments that might have an inappropriate influence on research, education, and clinical decision-making, they could also help identify relationships that lead to the development of beneficial new technologies.

Source: CMS, September 30, 2014

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