ALBANY — An open payment program, also known as Sunshine Payments, came about as a provision of the Affordable Care Act, letting patients know some of the details of the financial relationships that exist between drug and device companies and the heath care providers they serve.
At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Board of Directors for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were given a crash course on how Sunshine Payments work.
“This came about to promote transparency,” said Audrey Wilson, chief compliance officer for Phoebe.
Wilson said the program collects and publishes information, which may involve payments to providers for things such as research, meals, travel, gifts or speaking fees — outlining what items of value the hospital receives — and that the reports will be released annually.
One of the ways the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides the data is through a search tool allowing the public to search for physicians and teaching hospitals receiving payments, as well as companies making payments.
“The purpose of the program is to provide the public with a more transparent health care system,” Wilson said during the board meeting. “All information available on the Open Payments database is open to personal interpretation, and if there are questions about the data, health care consumers should speak directly to the health care provider for a better understanding.”
The open payment program requires applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations to report certain payments and other transfers of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals, and any ownership or investment interest physicians or their immediate family members have in their company.
“Before the public can see it, you are given a period of time to review (and dispute if needed) any data reported about you,” Wilson said during her presentation to Phoebe’s doctors. “You should check your data every year, even if you do not think there is data reported on you. Drug or device companies could submit older data from previous years.
“Once data is submitted, for the previous year or older years, the review and dispute period is the only time that physicians can use to dispute the data before it is public.”
The database is available at https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov.