Unawareness could leave Sunshine Act behind clouds
By Mia Burns (email@example.com)
Starting in September 2014, U.S. consumers will have access to an online tool that could become integral to their healthcare decision making, however, only a few may actually use the tool unless a public information campaign is launched, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act is designed to provide more transparency into the financial nature of relationships between physicians and healthcare companies. On Aug. 1 of this year, manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologics must submit annual reports to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and document the value of items provided to the physicians and teaching hospitals with which they work. These items could range from a company covering the cost of a physician’s lunch, to providing a surgeon with stock options.
“The majority of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act outlines the types of transactions made to physicians and teaching hospitals that medical device and pharmaceutical companies are required to report to the CMS,” says Joseph Gregory, GlobalData’s analyst covering medical devices. “One of the provisions of the Act specifies the future creation of an online portal where these data will be available for public viewing.”
Gregory also told Med Ad News Daily that the specific URL for the online tool has yet to become available. “It will likely become public a month or so prior to the database’s full launch, and it will likely provide information on what the website will house, and how to navigate it,” he says.
Two types of U.S. patients exist, according to Gregory. “There are some patients who have a lot of respect for, and put a lot of trust in their primary care physicians or the specialists they are referred to,” he told Med Ad News Daily. “They are accustomed to believing that by default, every healthcare provider has their best interest in mind. Then there are the other patients who are a bit more wary of the care they receive. These are the patients who will extensively utilize online resources and social media to research their condition and its appropriate care. These are also the patients who are likely to be able to identify conflicts of interest in healthcare. However, this online tool needs to cater to both of these patient types in order to really help in the research process required to identify potential conflicts of interest. This includes providing links to other free and government-sponsored online resources, while providing some education on how to use these sites as well as how to interpret the information they house. For example, Clinicaltrials.gov is great resource to help identify the major clinical trials associated with a prescribed medical device or drug. Subsequently, Pubmed is another government-sponsored online tool that publishes the results of these clinical trials, and the majority of the time, the entire publication is free for public viewing. In my opinion, the Sunshine Act website should provide tips on how to interpret the clinical trial data presented on Pubmed; this would help determine whether the device or drug patients are receiving has the best safety and efficacy profile.”
Posted: September 2013