CMS unveils payment tracking apps

Mobile apps an 'innovation option' for docs and industry officials
By Erin McCann
10:27 AM
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday announced the unveiling of two new mobile health applications to assist providers in tracking payments and other value transfers the industry will be required to report under the Physician Sunshine Act.
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, also known as the OPEN PAYMENTS program, was created by a provision of the Affordable Care Act and aims to encourage public transparency pertaining to financial transactions among providers, hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, and other healthcare businesses.
CMS has made these mobile apps available to facilitate accurate reporting of required information, which will be publicly available and 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," said CMS Program Integrity Director Peter Budetti, MD, in a press release. "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."  
To complement the OPEN PAYMENTS program, CMS designed the mobile apps – one for doctors and one for other healthcare industry users – with real-time 24-hour tracking capabilities. Agency officials affirm that docs are not required to report any information via the apps, but can use the tools to help them validate reports submitted by manufacturers regarding received payments.  
The Sunshine Act requires: drug and device manufacturers to report payments and/or other transfers they make to physicians and teaching hospitals; manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to report on investment interests and/or ownership help by physicians or their immediate family members; and GPOs to report payments or value transfers made to physician owners or investors if they hold ownership/investment interest.
Starting Aug. 1, groups will be required to begin collecting and tracking the payment information. 
According to the agency, the apps do serve the limited function of tracking, however, as financial data loaded into the apps will not interact with CMS systems and therefore cannot be used for direct data reporting to CMS or its contractors. Furthermore, CMS will not validate the accuracy of data stored in the apps, nor will it be responsible for protecting data stored in the apps, officials pointed out.