Sunshine, finally

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 - Candace Stuart - Headshot
Candace Stuart, Editor

Today marks the beginning of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments, otherwise known as Physician Payments Sunshine Act. It took a while for this rule to crest the horizon, but the delays may have allowed for the development of some helpful tools and guides.

Sunshine mandates public reporting of all payments or transfers of value by industry and group purchasing organizations to physicians and teaching hospitals. It also makes public ownership or investment interests held by physicians or their immediate family members in entities such as drug and device manufacturers. The goal is to ensure transparency and allow patients to see what, if any, potential conflict of interest their physicians may have.

Data collection was supposed to start with the New Year in 2012 but was bogged down with delays.

Keeping track of gifts and payments may seem daunting. While the burden is on industry, physicians likely would like to know their tab at any given time. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is offering two apps, one for industry and one for doctors, for logging in largesse. The apps are for personal use.

The American College of Cardiology also offers a webinar that explains Sunshine. It is free for members.  

On another technology front, an analysis of equipment failures in operating rooms found that one in every five errors traced back to equipment problems. Rates were higher for cardiology, which relies on more sophisticated technology that theoretically has a higher chance of going awry.

Today also heralds in a global study on peripheral artery disease (PAD) that calculated a 23.5 percent increase over a decade in the number of people worldwide with the condition. According to the study, 202 million people are affected, a total that physicians at the forefront in PAD research consider likely to be low.  

In the past, the message that PAD is a growing problem seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Some members of the medical community have helped to change that by getting the word out. Does that include you? If so, please let us know how you have raised awareness among peers and patients.    

Candace Stuart

Cardiovascular Business, editor