Apps will help physicians track payments

Mobile apps will help physicians track payments

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on July 17 introduced two free mobile applications to help physicians and healthcare industry users track payments and other financial transfers as required under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

The apps are part of CMS' OPEN PAYMENTS program, which is intended to create transparency about financial transactions between doctors, teaching hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, and other healthcare businesses, the agency explained. CMS said it made the apps available to facilitate accurate reporting of required information. The reports will be published annually on the OPEN PAYMENTS website.

“CMS’ foray into mobile technology is about providing user-friendly tools for doctors, manufacturers and others in the healthcare industry to use in working with us to implement the law in a smart way,” CMS Program Integrity Director Peter Budetti, MD, said in a press release accompanying the announcement.  “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 important transparency program.”

CMS designed the apps  -- one each for physicians and healthcare industry users -- to enable real-time, 24-hour tracking of financial-reporting data.  Both apps are compatible with Apple iOS and Android platforms; they are available free through the iOS Apple Store and Google Play Store.  

In August 2013, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations will collect and prepare to report payments and other transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as certain ownership and investment interests, as required by the Sunshine Act. (CMS noted that reporting requirements do not apply to physician claims payments.) 

Physicians are not required to report any information; however, they may wish to use this technology to help them validate reports submitted by manufacturers about payments they’ve received, CMS said.

For physician users, the “OPEN PAYMENTS Mobile for Physicians” app will help them ensure the accuracy of industry information reported about them is accurate. The app enables:

  • Tracking of payments and other transfers of value received from their healthcare industry affiliations in real-time, as they occur.
  • Transferring user profile and high-level information associated with the event or situation in which the “transfer of value” occurred.
  • Storing of personal contact information.

CMS cautioned that financial data loaded into the apps does not interact with the agency's other systems and cannot be used for direct data reporting to CMS or its contractors.  In addition, CMS said it "will not validate the accuracy of data stored in the apps, nor will it be responsible for protecting data stored in the apps."

Click here to access a CMS fact sheet (PDF) for physicians on the OPEN PAYMENTS program.