CMS Releases App To Streamline Open Payment Program

by Peter Budetti, MD, JD

I’m excited to announce that we have released two apps to help physicians, manufacturers, and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) track data for the Open Payments program, which was created through the “Sunshine” provision of the Affordable Care Act.  Use of the apps is entirely voluntary. Importantly, these apps are for information collection and storage only.  Having this mobile tool at your fingertips will make data much simpler to track and report.

The mobile apps are available to help physicians and others track payments and other information they receive throughout the year. This is intended to make annual reporting easier and ensure greater data accuracy.  CMS’ foray into mobile technology is about providing user-friendly tools for doctors, manufacturers and others in the health care industry to use in working with us to implement the law.  These two apps are an innovation option for doctors and industry to accurately and securely track their financial ties and other transfers of values as required under this transparency program created by the Affordable Care Act.

New Open Payments Apps available for download

The Open Payments law is designed to improve transparency to sustain patient care and trust as the highest priority by allowing the public to be informed about financial relationships that could influence the drugs, devices, biological, or medical supplies used in health care delivery.

To facilitate transparency and to keep patient care and trust as the highest priority, CMS has developed these apps to help physicians and others managed their oversight of information about their financial relationships that companies will report to Open Payments. We developed these apps to reduce the reporting burden by providing tools to simplify the tracking process and help improve data accuracy reporting for the industry (manufacturers and GPOs).

Using the Apps

Physician and industry users can track events and payments together using these apps for individual tracking purposes by either just the physician or just the industry user.  If they want to use the apps collaboratively, they can exchange many types of information, in real-time, to help ensure that physician information that the industry must supply to CMS in formal reporting such as  name, business address, and National Provider Identifier (NPI), is collected accurately. They can also collaborate on the interaction and payment that occurred to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Here is an example of how a physician could use the app to track payments received:

A physician receives a consulting fee from a drug manufacturer. The physician doesn’t have a reporting requirement under the Open Payments program, since all reporting is done by manufacturers and other companies, but she wants to be sure that the drug manufacturer accurately reports the consulting fee to CMS. Using the physician app, she can record a detailed summary of the transaction for her own records – by manually entering the data.

And here’s an example of how a doctor collaborates with the health care industry using the app:

The physician can use the “Read Quick Response (QR) Code” functionality that allows the manufacturer to create a record of the interaction and transfer it to the physician for her review.

Additionally, to help ensure the drug manufacturer correctly attributes the consulting fee to her, she can share her profile information with the drug company using the “Create QR Code” function. Months later, when she is reviewing the data the drug manufacturer reported to CMS, and before the data is made public, she can retrieve her original record from her mobile device and do a comparison to confirm that the information is correct.  If she believes the information that the manufacturer submitted to CMS about a particular interaction is not accurate, she can work with the manufacturer on correcting the information prior to publication.

Note that CMS will not validate the accuracy of data stored in the apps, nor will it be responsible for protecting data stored in the apps.  Reporting entities have sole responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the data submitted to CMS under Open Payments.  

To download the mobile apps free of charge, for both Android and Apple platforms, users should visit the Google Play Store™ or iOS Apple™ Store and search for “Open Payments.” Once the chosen app has been installed, the user will be prompted to establish a password to ensure data security and privacy. That’s all it takes to get started.

Questions

This is an exciting time for CMS, as we’re able to harness the power of mobile technology to enable successful program implementation. Frequently Asked Questions about the apps and how they can be accessed and used are available on the Open Payments website. For any questions relating to Open Payments, contact the Help Desk at OpenPayments@cms.hhs.gov.

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