Transparency and accountability are nothing new for those who work in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical product industries. But some professionals now find themselves scrambling to satisfy the new Physician Payment Sunshine Act requirements related to meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Beginning August 1, the Sunshine Act requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, biologicals, and medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Medicaid to report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services all payments or transfers of value to physicians, teaching hospitals, and other healthcare providers. This includes expenses related to the meetings industry, including travel, lodging, and food and beverage.CMS will begin posting the information in a public database on its Web site in the fall of 2014.
Tracking individual expenses for each physician attending a conference could be a logistical and paperwork nightmare: Did Dr. Smith have a muffin with his breakfast? Which physician asked for an extra piece of cheesecake for dessert?
Physicians also are concerned about the accuracy of reporting—some may even opt out of events for fear that errors in reporting may harm their reputations once the data goes public.
Here are three ways to address Sunshine-related challenges:
1. Negotiate package deals that calculate costs ahead of time, so you don’t have to track and sort through individual expenses later on.
2. Look for venues that provide the greatest value. Physician attendees are less likely to fear criticism and opt out if the rates are reasonable.
3. Bundle pricing into the total cost of your event. This makes processing easier and gives attendees an idea up front of what will be reported to the CMS.
Here’s how these strategies play out in two key areas.