What is the Sunshine Act 2013?

What is the Sunshine Act 2013?

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act - or, simply, the Sunshine Act - is an extension of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that aims to increase public transparency for the transactions made between healthcare providers and other individuals and corporations. The Sunshine Act is designed to help decrease the possibility of conflicts of interest between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Yet it also puts a great amount of responsibility on professionals everywhere to keep in-depth records of their expenditures and transactions.

The Sunshine Act directly requires individuals working in the healthcare industry who participate in federal healthcare programs to report certain payments and items of value transferred to other professionals with their involvement. The Sunshine Act, which took effect on Aug. 1, 2013, states that manufacturers of drugs and medical devices are obligated to collect and track payment, transfer and ownership information for all exchanges made.

The majority of the information contained in the reports will be made available to the public on a website slated to go live in 2014, operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Any transfers of value greater than $10 must be reported, and any gifts greater than $100 will be made public online. Additionally, any individuals who don't comply with the standards set forth will be subject to heavy fines.

Weighing the benefits
Physicians retain the right to review reports that include them and challenge any statements they feel are inaccurate or misleading. Some physicians feel that making information about transfers of value public will lead to doctors acting with more scrutiny, which could improve healthcare for everyone.

John Mandrola, M.D., a cardiologist in Louisville, Ky., told the Wall Street Journal that he will think more cautiously about when to accept fees or assignments from pharmaceutical companies now that the information will be available to his patients.

"I'll continue to weigh the benefits and the negatives, and I think the Sunshine Act and the public reporting of all this stuff makes us think about that," he told the news source. "And I think that's a good thing."

How manufacturers and corporations can ensure compliance
With the help of automated expense report software, any applicable manufacturer can ensure that they are in full compliance with the regulations set by the Sunshine Act. The program offered by Certify can be implemented with current finance systems quickly, allowing businesses and healthcare service providers to begin tracking their expenses properly and in a timely manner.

The program also provides instant access to software required to create the federally mandated report, streamlining the process for the workers tasked with publishing the expense reports. Certify's expense report software is also integrated directly with the National Provider Identifier, allowing individuals to search and attach the appropriate physicians to reported expenses with greater ease.

Additionally, Certify's program provides mobile access to the database, allowing for on-the-go functionality - expenses can be reported and logged in real-time, as they're incurred. For traveling employees, this allows for seamless expense reporting, and as such, for more time to work on pertinent tasks.

Christine Bradshaw, director of regulatory and compliance services at Porzio Life Sciences, told Forbes that affected businesses need to take action to comply with the Sunshine Act.

"While this is a painful process for many companies, and some remain indignant that they have to collect this data and submit these reports at all, they now have official requirements and deadlines and can't delay preparations any longer," she told the news outlet. "These requirements have been pending since the healthcare overhaul legislation was passed in March of 2010, and finally the requirements are on paper. Now we have to turn those requirements into practices and processes."

For corporations searching for the most efficient means of complying with the Sunshine Act, Certify's expense report software may be the solution.