In any case, CMS is now formulating the reporting requirements of section 6002, and will be judged on whether or not it has done a good job of making the information easily understandable and presented in context and without delay, while at the same time making reporting requirements simple enough so that they do not stifle innovation. It’s a daunting task, and breaks down like this:
Goal 1: Understandable
Each payment or transfer of value should be listed separately, but consumers should be able to manipulate the data such that a clear picture of the financial relationship between the physician and the company or companies with which he has a financial relationship can be obtained. Because of this need, CMS needs to ensure proper safeguards such that duplication of data does not give false impressions to consumers. These kinds of duplications have an odd way of multiplying in searches of sophisticated databases of information, and this one would have to be of the most complex sort.
Goal 2: Presented in context and without delay
In addition to making the list searchable in various ways, CMS needs to ensure that the data is presented in context, says a missive to CMS from the Premier healthcare alliance, a financial and clinical data analysis group owned by hospitals. That means, according to Premier, that “CMS should reference the specific drug or device associated with any reported payment or transfer of value and should also include the name of the drug or device in a form that is recognizable to the public.” That sounds right to me.
Premier also argues against providing a period for review and correction of the data from manufacturers and group purchasing organizations because of the inevitable delays that this would entail in presenting the data to the public. As the group rightly points out, delay in access to reported information lessens its value and undermines the goal of the statute.