When a doctor or hospital has a financial relationship with a manufacturing company, they trade money for things like research, gifts, public speaking, food, and travel. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that when companies and providers make this exchange, they disclose the spending. CMS has created a program called Open Payments that the federal government maintains. CMS works to collect all of this information and put it on their Open Payments website.
Information on Open Payments website:
The open payments website shows exactly how much money drug and device companies give to doctors and teaching hospitals. They pay for travel costs, meals, public speaking, and gifts for these individuals, among other things. People can search on the open payments website for an exact breakdown of spending by these companies and can learn exactly how much money is going where.
Why is this important?
By having this type of information available, the public is able to see how strong the relationship between drug/device companies and these providers are. The open payments website shows the nature of these bonds as well as their boundaries. Having open payments available to us helps us ask important questions. Like, how are they using the money or is this spending useful or wasteful for the healthcare industry? It creates transparency between the public and healthcare, keeping things from going unnoticed.
Who benefits from this transparency?
While it might not seem that beneficial to have Open Payments available, it is helpful for quite a few. The main being patients who want to stay informed on how their physicians are earning their money and government officials who seek to prevent fraud and abuse in provider-company relationships. Anyone can now look at this website and see exactly how much money their doctor earns from drug/device companies. This increase in clarity keeps our healthcare industry more accountable for their spending and increases the understanding of how these relationships function.
The launch of Open Payments by CMS gives our population a tool for learning and helps us to understand what happens behind the scene. This tool with the other tools CMS offers to grow transparency in the healthcare industry continue to make sure the doctors and companies involved are staying responsible. By keeping key and useful information like this public, CMS is working towards preventing fraudulent use of funds. They are also increasing how honorable our healthcare system is and continues to be.