Groups call for delay in physician transparency database

Medical groups are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to push back implementing a new database intended to disclose possible conflicts of interest.

Over 100 medical professional groups, including the American Medical Association, signed a letter to CMS Tuesday to delay launch of the Open Payment System under the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act.

The database is expected to go live Sept. 30 and would publicly list what payments medical providers have received from drug and device industries in the interest of transparency.

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“There are widespread concerns that the implementation of this new system for data collection — without minimally a six month period to upload the data, process registrations, generate aggregated individualized reports, and manage the dispute communications and updates — will not be ready and will likely lead to the release of inaccurate, misleading, and false information,” the groups wrote.

The groups are asking CMS to reschedule the database launch date to March 31.

The Open Payment System has come under criticism after media reports unearthed mistakes in the database that could potentially hurt a physician’s reputation.

A Propublica investigation found at least one Kentucky doctor was listed in the new database as having had been paid by drugmaker Janssen Pharmaceuticals. However, the drugmaker was paying a different doctor with an identical name who lived in Florida.

“Many of our organizations supported passage of the Sunshine Act and, fundamentally, we have no issue with efforts to increase transparency in the interactions between physicians and industry,” wrote authors of the letter. “However, we have a number of serious concerns regarding how the Open Payments System has been implemented.”

Additionally the medical groups are asking CMS to relax requirements for reporting continuing education sponsorship for physicians unless a drug or devicemaker directly pays for their seminars.

While physicians have the opportunity to log on to the database before it goes live to review their information for accuracy, the medical groups say many physicians don’t know about the requirement and reviewing the information will take more time.

“Perhaps most troubling, many physicians are expressing frustration at an overly complex registration process which, combined with the condensed timeframe, makes the task of reviewing and disputing reports by August 27 effectively impossible for the Agency’s estimated 224,000 covered physician recipients,” they wrote.