Review your 2018 payments from industry before patients do

Review and dispute 2018 payments before May 15

The 45-day window of review has opened for doctors of optometry to inspect and dispute their 2018 payments from the health care industry.

"The Open Payments system, a massive endeavor to gather and publish the information, does offer patients and consumers a tool to view information about individual physicians and providers to help give a level of transparency when considering potential conflict of interest situation."

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will publicly publish in June the 2018 payment data, plus updates from previous years. For physicians and teaching hospitals, the annual review period starts April 1 and runs through May 15. Disputes must be initiated by mid-May to be reflected in June's publication.

Also known as the Sunshine Act, the Open Payments program requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose payments or gifts to doctors of optometry and other doctors on an annual basis. The program, administered by CMS, is intended to provide transparency for patients regarding the financial relationships between doctors and the medical industry to identify any conflicts of interest. Data is available for public viewing on CMS' website.

That transparency is consistent with the AOA Standards of Professional Conduct (section on relationships with industry):

"...optometrists should avoid situations and activities that would not be in the best interest of their patients. Any financial and/or material incentive offered by industry that creates an inappropriate influence on an optometrist's clinical judgment should be avoided."

"The Open Payments system, a massive endeavor to gather and publish the information, does offer patients and consumers a tool to view information about individual physicians and providers to help give a level of transparency when considering potential conflict of interest situations," says Douglas Totten, O.D., chair of the AOA Ethics and Values Committee. 

What does industry report?

Publicly reported payments received by doctors from manufacturers and group purchasing organizations include payments such as travel and lodging, grants, consulting fees, honorarium, education, and food and beverages.

CMS does not discourage these payments. Rather, it has called them mutually beneficial to doctors and patients because they "contribute to the design and delivery of life-saving drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies."

Plus, provided the relationships don't create a conflict of interest for doctors, transparency can help build trust between patients and doctors.

How to review

Doctors of optometry must have a national provider identifier (NPI) number and state license number (SLN) to participate in the program. Go here to learn how to register for the program. For more information on review and dispute timing and publication, view the Review and Dispute Timing and Data Publication Quick Reference Guide.

Users who registered previously do not need to re-register. If an account has not been accessed for the last 60 days, unlock your account by going to the CMS Enterprise Portal, enter your user ID and correctly answer the questions to gain access to your account.

If the account has not been accessed for 180 days or more, the account will be deactivated. To reinstate the account, contact the Open Payments Help Desk at 1.855.326.8366; (TTY Line: 1.844.649.2766).

April 17, 2019

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