What is in this article?:
- Many Docs Still Clueless About Sunshine Act
- What About CME?
Survey reveals what doctors know, and don't know, about the Sunshine Act's transparency requirements, from the law's existence to what needs to be tracked and publicly reported. The upshot? Pharmaceutical companies and continuing medical education providers could find themselves losing key physician relationships due to misperceptions about the Act.
According to a recent survey, some physicians actually know less about the Sunshine Act provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act now than they did one year ago. More than half of the 1,025 physicians surveyed in January by communications technology company MMIS Inc. and healthcare information services company Health Data Solutions said they didn’t know that the law requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to track any payments or “transfers of value” to physicians and teaching hospitals as of August 1, 2013.
They also didn’t know that the companies then will submit the data to the government, or that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will begin publicly reporting the data as of March 2014. This reflects a 5 percent decrease overall in familiarity with the law over last year’s survey results. This is the third year the survey was conducted.
Once they became aware of the Sunshine Act via the survey, 63 percent of the physicians surveyed said the Sunshine Act’s requirements—which aim to make the relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical and medical device companies more transparent—deeply concern them, in part because they don’t trust companies to get the information right.
The survey found that 94 percent want to be able to review the payment data before it goes public, and to dispute any claims they think are wrong, something the final rules do allow. Forty-three percent said inaccurate reporting would adversely affect their interactions with industry, and more than one-fifth said they’d sever their relationship with a company that reported incorrect information.
And many do report having some sort of financial relationship with industry, whether it be receiving samples (54 percent), receiving food and beverage in their workplace (57 percent), participating in an "industry-funded program" (48 percent), or participating in speakers bureau programs (11 percent) and advisory board programs (10 percent). Even though companies are prohibited from offering any entertainment or gifts that do not advance disease or treatment education under the voluntary Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals—a practice that is also banned by law in several states—2 percent said they still accept free event tickets or gifts.