Sunshine Act ensures transparency of medical records

Sunshine Act ensures transparency of medical records

At long last, the Sunshine Act is a reality, and transparency is coming to the medical profession in America. Everyone in the healthcare sector, from biologists to drug manufacturers to makers of medical devices, will be required to report certain financial details to the government.

With this new legislation, enacted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the expectation is that hidden conflicts of interest will never be an issue again - with transparent spending will come transparent motives for healthcare companies. That's the hope according to Scott Liebman, vice president of Porzio Life Sciences.

"At its essence, the Sunshine Act requires applicable manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biological products, and medical supplies to annually report to CMS information regarding payments, ownership, investment interests and other transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals," Liebman told Forbes. "The intent of this law is to bring potential conflicts of interest to light with the goal of driving down healthcare costs."

Many months of contentious debate went into finalizing the Sunshine Act. One issue discussed at great length was data capture - CMS originally announced in a May 2012 statement that data capture would be required beginning on January 1, 2013, but that decree was met with outcry from proponents of disclosure who wanted capture to begin sooner. After a series of letters sent to CMS led to a delay, CMS finally announced that companies will be required to begin data capture on August 1, 2013, with their first federal reports to begin March 31, 2014.

Then there's the matter of the "final rule," the most contentious topic in the Sunshine Act debate - the rule which imposes further reporting requirements on group purchasing organizations (GPOs). Under the final rule, which was just recently finalized and released, manufacturers of drugs and devices are required to annually report to CMS all payments made to covered recipients, including physicians, hospitals and third parties.

There are a lot of new rules to digest, but companies can ensure their Sunshine Act compliance by using expense management vendors such as Certify. Certify's expense solution makes it easier not only for employees to submit expenses, but also for managers to track and report expense data from one comprehensive system. Transparency is coming to the healthcare field, and software solutions are available to help.