Open Payments System Glitch Extends Data Review Period For Physicians

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Open Payments system was offline from August 3 to August 15 to resolve technical issues prompting CMS to extend the time physicians have to review their records before the information is made public.

The new deadline for review of information on payments to physicians or investment holdings has been extended to September 8, 2014 with the information going public on September 30, 2014 – as originally planned.

An investigation found that the system glitch was caused by manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) submitting intermingled data, such as the wrong state license number or national provider identifier (NPI), for physicians with the same last and first names. This erroneously linked physician data in the Open Payments system.

“CMS takes data integrity very seriously and took swift action after a physician reported a problem,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Program Integrity Shantanu Agrawal, MD. “We have identified the root cause of the problem and have instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors. We strongly encourage physicians to review their records before the deadline and before the data are posted publically to identify any discrepancies.”

CMS implemented system fixes, and revalidated all data in the system to verify that the physician identifiers used by the applicable manufacturer or GPO are accurate, and that all payment records are attributed to a single physician. Incorrect payment transactions have been removed from the current review and dispute process and this data will not be published.

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) along with 111 other medical societies and the AMA voiced concerns in a letter to CMS urging the agency  to reconsider how it is rolling out the Open Payments program, also known as the Sunshine Act.

In particular, the letter urges CMS to maintain the continuing medical education reporting exclusion, which applies when industry donors are unaware of the speakers and other participants before committing to fund the activity. The letter also asks CMS to reconsider its decision not to exclude journal article reprints from Sunshine Act reporting and to postpone the public data release so physicians have more time to complete the cumbersome registration, review and dispute process.

Physicians and teaching hospitals can now register in Open Payments to review their payments. You also can visit the AMA’s Sunshine Act Web page for more detailed instructions on how to register in the Open Payments Systems and review their data. Physicians can download the AMA’s full Sunshine Act toolkit for practical information on navigating the September 30 public data release.


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