CMS Looks To Boost Doctors’ Awareness, Use of Open Payments Site

March 21, 2015 in News

On Thursday, CMS officials said the agency wants to improve its outreach efforts to encourage providers to register and review the accuracy of information within its physician payment website, Modern Healthcare reports (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 3/19).


In September, CMS launched its Open Payments System, which is required under the Affordable Care Act’s Sunshine Act and aims to boost transparency by making public payments health care providers have received from drugmakers and medical device manufactures. The first round of data included payments made between Aug. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013. Overall, the data showed manufacturers made 4.4 million payments to physicians and teaching hospitals during the time frame valued at $3.5 billion.

In December 2014, CMS updated the website to include about 68,000 new payments. The database now includes payment information for about 500,000 physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals, totaling $3.7 billion (iHealthBeat, 1/23).

Outreach Effort

CMS’ past outreach efforts have focused on the drug and device industries, according to Modern Healthcare. However, the agency now plans to increase awareness among physicians.

According to Modern Healthcare, CMS has hired an advertising and public relations firm to assist with its outreach campaign, which will include:

  • Advertisements;
  • Emails;
  • Media outreach; and
  • Paid search engine results.

Toula Bellios, a director of CMS’ Center for Program Integrity, on Thursday attended an Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education meeting to search for additional ideas to bolster the agency’s efforts. Bellios said, “Most doctors don’t even think it’s really relevant to their practices.”

APOE Provides Feedback, Recommends Shift in Focus

Several APOE committee members suggested CMS would be better off by refocusing its efforts on consumers, which would likely raise awareness among providers, Modern Healthcare reports.

Megan Padden, vice president of Government Programs and Compliance at Sentara Health Plans, said, “If my patients start asking about this, maybe then I’ll see it as a priority.”

Another recommendation included targeting physicians and engaging with them one-on-one at industry events.

Phillip Bergquist, health center operations manager at the Michigan Primary Care Association, said, “I asked some people what would it take to get you to know anything about this, and one physician was like, ‘Someone would literally have to be standing in front of me and force me to do this.’”

However, some physicians on the committee said such an approach was not necessary (Modern Healthcare, 3/19).

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