We have completed two Sunshine Act/Open Payments reporting cycles. The first cycle, limited to the last five months of 2013, was marred by glitches that affected the reported data’s integrity. The reporting cycle for 2013 data was, in many ways, a trial run.
The second reporting cycle, which covered all of 2014, ran much more effectively. CMS had solved nearly all of the technological problems that plagued the first cycle, and had a clear timetable for the submission and review phases leading up to publication of the data. With fewer hurdles in their way, reporting entities could focus on submitting their data by the CMS deadline. As a result, the 2014 data are much more reliable than the incomplete 2013 data.
The media have actively parsed the 2013 and 2014 data, searching for trends by reviewing the two reporting cycles. Was the total dollar value reported in 2014 less than expected? Is research funding on the decline? I don’t believe those analytical efforts have been useful.
We do not yet have enough data from which we can draw conclusions about the Sunshine Act’s impact on financial relationships between industry, physicians and teaching hospitals. We should view 2014 data as a baseline against which we will measure data from future reporting cycles. Trends will emerge over time. Meanwhile, you should be wary of instant analysis.
CMS accompanied publication of the 2014 data with a chart summarizing 2013 data, 2014 data, and the two year total of data. You can view that chart and draw your own conclusions. Here it is: https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/
As always, I will keep you posted on Sunshine Act developments as they unfold.