CMS goes mobile to tackle price transparency

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have introduced mobile apps to help physicians and the healthcare industry to track payments‏ and other financial transfers, according to an announcement from CMS.

The two apps, one for physicians and one for healthcare industry users, leverage 24-hour tracking technology to provide on-the-go financial data.

Financial information entered into the apps will help healthcare industry entities meet reporting requirements of the Open Payments program (Physician Payments Sunshine Act), created by a provision of the Affordable Care Act aimed at greater public transparency about the financial transactions between doctors, teaching hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, and other health care businesses.

"Financial data loaded into the apps does not interact with CMS systems and cannot be used for direct data reporting to CMS or its contractors," states the announcement. "In addition, CMS will not validate the accuracy of data stored in the apps, nor will it be responsible for protecting data stored in the apps."  

For physician users, the CMS Open Payments app is meant to help them assure that industry information reported about them is accurate. However, physicians are not required to report any information, though they may wish to use this technology to help them validate reports submitted by manufacturers about payments they've received, according to the announcement.

"CMS' foray into mobile technology is about providing user-friendly tools for doctors, manufacturers and others in the health care industry to use in working with us to implement the law in a smart way," said Peter Budetti, M.D., CMS Program Integrity Director, in a written statement. "These two apps are an innovation option for doctors and industry to accurately and securely track their financial ties and other transfers of values as required under this important transparency program."    

The Open Payments section of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act is set to begin August 1. Utah-based Infuse Medical announced the release of their own mobile app designed to satisfy the complicated compliance requirements.

"While the CMS's app includes the basic functions an individual [Professional Sales Rep] needs to comply, it doesn't provide medical manufacturers with an easy means of overseeing the combined data of all PSRs and it leaves plenty of room for individual mistakes and potential liability," warns Infuse Medical. According to the company, their "Sunshine Act Compliance Mobile App" on the other hand provides a "comprehensive, user-friendly solution for full-compliance, while minimizing the effort and cost required to comply and protecting them against potential liability."

To learn more:
- read the announcement